Saturday 31 August 2013

From the beginning: 'A' is for 'Alex' ...

Wooden letter.  Nikon D80
30th August 2013

This wooden letter has been in for repair today.

It is from a little wooden letter train that Alex had as a baby.

It is nice to know that given the high turn-over of kids toys that they destroy and are destined for landfill, a few survive for many, many years.

What's long, hairy and smells of cabbage?

Hairy caterpillar.  Fuji F10
29th August 2013

I have noticed quite a few caterpillars around recently.   This one seemed to be very lost and was inching its way up one of the garden chairs.

The nasturtium plants in the veg plot have been savaged recently too; they appear to be a favorite food of something wriggly.

I know some caterpillars can cause irritation, I am sure some of the birds have figured out how to eat these Cabbage White guys safely though.

Split balls

Lonesome tennis ball.  Nikon D7000
28th August 2013

As Xena has been on her holidays too, her tennis balls in the garden have been quite lonely.

I am not sure quite why the dogs we have seem to think that tennis balls look better when shredded, but Fitz used to like to make a split in the ball, and then sit and make a 'clopping' noise with it as he squeezed it repeatedly in his mouth.

Then he would just rip it to shreds like all the others.

Xena likes to split them and then wait until the carpet has just been vacuumed.   Then she will rip it to shreds and distribute the bits across the floor.

Black and swollen

Blackberries just going ripe.  Nikon D7000
27th August 2013

I had the first of the blackberries today; you have to wait until these fall off with only the slightest pull, otherwise they are sharp rather than sweet.

Despite the rotten spring, they seemed to have ripened quite well; possibly even a better crop than last year.

We had the piggies out on the lawn today too; I managed to get a slightly better picture, although they are not the best as staying still.

Wriggles and Titan on the lawn.  Nikon D7000

Extending the family

Wriggles the Guinea Pig.  Nikon D7000
26th August 2013

We have to extra family members to add to the menagerie now; Wriggles and Titan.

After spending the summer playing with the Guinea pigs at Jon and Julia's in France, Alex and Liz could not resist and after lots of pestering, we caved in.

They are quite cute really and the lady in the shop has assured us they are both boys....

If not, we may need to find some recipes :)
Titan.  Nikon D7000

Off-street Parking

Parked Helicopter.  Nikon D7000
25th August 2013

The air ambulance is never really a sight that you want to see, but today the pilot showed just how well trained they are.

There is a small car park where he landed it, but it was not straight forward due to all the overhead wires.

The way he hovered around before landing, I think the pilot's alternative site may have been outside our house.  

A service certainly worth every penny.

Going brown in the sun

First fig ripening.  Nikon D7000
24th August 2013

Some of the figs on the tree by the patio have just started to swell and turn brown.

It will be another few days before we can enjoy this little beauty, but it certainly shows promise!

Edit:  It was scrummy :)

Cuckoo Apple

Grafted apple.  Nikon D7000
23rd August 2013

Last year I decided to have a go at grafting apples.

This year, the grafts flowered and I decided to let the strongest of the two try for one fruit.

Given the graft is on the Russet tree, the yellow/green apple does look a little odd!

Four little letters: G C S E

Liz's first letters.  Fuji F10
22nd August 2013

Although teenagers are quite adept with four-letter words, there is one that strikes abject fear into many of them: 'GCSE'

This morning the waiting was over; Liz did very well and has all the grades she needs to go on into to the sixth form.

Well done Lizzy!

Friday 30 August 2013

Holiday Day 16: Road side tea

Time for Tea.   Fuji F10
21st August 2013

We are heading home today and leaving France behind us for another year.

The road-side stops in France are very good; functional toilets and picnic tables are every few miles.

Back to British tea bags tomorrow :)

Holiday Day 15: Jon's lunch box

A selection of Jon's Tomatoes.  Nikon D7000
20th August 2013

Jon has excelled again with Tomato varieties this year, however the crap spring weather has set back the ripening significantly.

He did however have enough ripe to collect a good range of different varieties today and made a very impressive display for lunch.

Holiday Day 14: Crocodile on the beach

Crocodile on the beach.  Fuji F10
19th August 2013

We visited the beach again today and Alex decided to make something in the sand.

He sketched the outline of a crocodile so we helped to pile up the sand as appropriate and then add some stones as teeth.

The tide came in eventually and washed it away, although it did look particularly menacing in the surf.

Alex also found an ingenious way to prevent sun burn.   I am not sure what the people on the beach behind him said though as he lifted up the sand-covered towel into the wind; he could have out run them all however as they were blinded with the sand in their eyes for quite some time.

Alex preventing sun burn.  Fuji F10

Holiday Day 13: Going for a Crepe in the forest

Walls of the Creperie.  Nikon D7000
18th August 2013

We went for a walk through the forest today with the aim of ending up at the local Creperie for lunch.

The Creperie is in Chateau de la Citardiere which is buried deep into the forest and is still mostly moated; a rather stunning place to sit and eat.

The food was super too.

On the way back, Felicite was not too impressed at how long it was taking, but it was good to find time to walk and fart in lush surroundings.

I also found a leaf suspended in mid air by the thinnest of spider web threads; all the makings of a very intriguing picture.

Felicite has had enough.  Nikon D7000

Suspended leaf.  Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 12: Katie has her wish come true

Katie gets to stroke a Giraffe.  Nikon D7000
17th August 2013

We spent the morning today at Mervent Zoo.   Although it is not the largest of places, they have a really good selection with nice big enclosures for the large beasts.

They also have some of the locals in cages too; there is a petting area with lots of hungry goats (and an alpaca or two).   The donkey pen was opposite the goats; all the girls ignored the donkey and went straight for the 'cute' goats.

The donkey brayed in indignation so I promised it that I would put its picture on my blog.   We even managed to salvage some spilled popcorn for the donkey before the goats inhaled it all.

Alex managed to see a Wolf (in the huge enclosure with the bears) and Katie got her wish; she stroked a Giraffe.

Tiger prowling.  Nikon D7000

White tiger.  Nikon D7000

Green Lizard thingy.  Nikon D7000

Gratuitous Alpaca shot.  Nikon D7000

Jealous Donkey.  Nikon D7000

Lemur. Nikon D7000

Compare the Meerkat.  Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 11: Life in a bubble

Campsite reflected in a bubble.  Nikon D7000
16th August 2013

Floating bubbles are a sod to focus onto, but it is well worth the effort.

I always like how the world around gets distorted in the reflections off the round bubble.

The thinness of the bubble wall also gives those wonderful interference patterns with the light and in this case, lovely green and purple swirls.

Just don't get the soap in your eye or they will all be out of focus for a while.

There are some good uses for soap on the campsite though; Liz's feet being one of them.

Liz's feet.  Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 10: Red Dragons

Dragon Fly.  Nikon D7000
15th August 2013

We are camping in the Mervent forest for a few days.

I took time out from pitching the tent to capture some images of this dragon fly that kept returning to the same perch for over half an hour.

I am not sure if it was just sun bathing, but if it was hoping for water to come from the tap, it was out of luck as the tap was broken.

The lake at Mervent is not far away; I just hope that all its biting cousins stay away tonight.

Holiday Day 9: Abstract bikes

Wide-angle Bike wheel.  Nikon D7000
14th August 2013

I had a fancy for taking some rather different pictures today.   I thought I may try some abstract photography again but with a wide angle lens and getting in close.

I am used to doing the wide angle shots with the pinhole camera, but it is also fun with the digital as the angle was too low to either look through the viewfinder or to see the screen when it was in live-view mode.

Found some nettles to put my knee in too....

Thursday 29 August 2013

Holiday Day 8: Turning to the Sun

Sunflowers, Nikon D7000
13th August 2013

We went for a stroll today out onto the marshes.   There are many fields there which are full of sunflowers.

For the many years we have been coming to the Vendee in August, the sunflowers all have brown petals and their heads bent down towards the soil as they dry out.

This year, the flowers are so late, they are still in full bloom and turning to follow the sun during the day.

Hopefully the extended season will be good for the bee population too.

Holiday Day 7: Dark and light

Fly stuck to the flypaper tube. 
Nikon D7000
12th August 2013

As ever in hot weather, the local insect population find time to breed in vast numbers.   The fly papers have had a good haul this year, one even managed to half escape, only to finally get thoroughly stuck to the side of the tube at the bottom.

Today is also meant to be a good time to see shooting stars; the Perseids.  

Tonight is clear and we have seen some, however when I put the cameras on tripods pointing to the heavens, all activity seemed to stop!

I did manage to capture one very weak one (1/3 from the left and 1/3 from the top of the image, click on the picture for a bigger view of it), hopefully the film camera did better.

Long exposure of stars with two aircraft and one shooting star.
Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 6: Beached

Flip-flops on the beach.  Fuji F10
11th August 2013

The sun is out, the surf is up and the sand has found its way into all unspeakable nooks and crannies.

I have always preferred exploring beaches than lying on a towel to soak up the rays.

As a rare treat, I went in the sea and then managed to find time to stretch out and soak up the sun.   I managed to escape with only mildly pink shoulders, rather than getting burned like many around us.

The sea was warm while I was paddling, but I had forgotten quite how much a scrotum can contract when it is first licked by cool sea water; stops one in one's tracks!

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Holiday Day 5: Doing Nuthin

Cactus in a gimp suit.  Nikon D7000
10th August 2013

It has been nice doing 'nuthing in particular', which makes it feel like a proper holiday and a chance to unwind.

I took the camera and the dog for a walk this morning.   I was quite perturbed to notice that the wonderful Cactus (the very first I found; again, I must make a page of Cactii) has been replaced by a modern usurper!   This cactus seems to be constrained in a Gimp suit, which is rather distressing.

I was further dismayed to see that the local crop of sweetcorn is doing well; mine is only just reaching knee height back home.

The kids are all settling down well now though; Liz and Millie were displaying iconic teenager behaviour this evening with their heads buried in their phones, yet still able to express their opinions.

Sweetcorn doing well. Nikon D7000

Teenagers.  Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 4: Children Unite

Fun with paint.  Nikon D7000
9th August 2013

We travelled across to the Vendee today to meet up with Liz, Jon and Julia (and their crowd).

The paint was flowing well when we arrived and T-shirts almost gained extra decoration in the excitement of us arriving.

Alex has found a quiet place to read his book while the six girls break out the nail varnish....

Holiday Day 3: A walk in the gardens

Formal Garden at Villandry.  Nikon D7000
8th August 2013

We had a day out along the Loire river to visit the gardens at the Chateau at Villandry today.

The weather behaved itself (the forecast was threatening rain) and Katie and Alex were loud, but enjoyed themselves.

Alex particularly liked the maze.  He did manage to find his way out in time for us to go home.
Flower beds, Nikon D7000

Villandry Chateau.  Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 2: A little pussy in the alley

Finding Pussy in an alley.  Nikon D7000
7th August 2013

We had a walk into the town this morning, stopping briefly to investigate a pussy in an alley.  We then headed South to Chenonceau to have a look at the chateau on stilts in the middle of a river. 

The place is rather impressive, I doubt there is any damp course though in the brickwork which must play havoc with the plaster.

Chenonceau.  Nikon D7000

Chenonceau.  Nikon D7000

Holiday Day 1: Camping in Amboise

Chateau at Amboise.
6x9 view camera, 150mm lens,
f/22 for 1/2 sec, ilford VC paper negative.

6th August 2013

We have decided to camp again at Amboise for a few days as it was so splendid last year.

I thought I would start the blog posts from our summer holiday with a little large-format photography.   The chateau is a great subject to get in high resolution and the long shutter time also smooths out the river nicely.

Happy holidays!

Monday 5 August 2013


Lilly with pollen stains.  Nikon D7000
5th August 2013

The lilies have opened at last (again, almost a month late) and are looking great in their pink pyjamas.   The rain has been washing the pollen onto the lower petals however, staining like mad.

The pink and yellow has created a rather nice apricot colour, not unattractive at all.

I had the sense not to go too close however as the pollen is known to be a sod to shift from clothes.

EDIT: I almost got stained last year too.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Eggciting find...

Jalfrezi's first egg for us.  Nikon D7000
4th August 2013

Today both Vindaloo and Jalfrezi both went to bed with the other chickens, rather than trying to roost in the nearest tree.

On looking around under the chicken pen, a new addition had appeared...

With the loss of Dory, there is only one candidate for a white egg layer in our flock now; Jalfrezi.

Well done, on your way to your first omelette!

Motorway Blues

Grasses by the side of the M4.  Fuji F10
3rd August 2013

Not a good day today.   It started out well for a trip to Wales, but ended just a few junctions down the motorway when the car lost all power.

It was a sorry journey back home in the recovery lorry with the car riding on the flatbed behind.

Happy holidays!

PS. 2nd hand Renault Espace for sale....  Its great when it works....   Parts cost a fortune though ....

Shapes: Helix and Triangles

Arrow flights.  Fuji F10
2nd August 2013

A little more abstract today; I found some interesting patterns in some arrow flights.

The feather sections make rather nice triangular patterns and the binding thread runs as a helix along the shaft.

The result is lots of angles.

If I can increase the contrast a bit, the shapes may look good as a black and white print in soot...

New Month, new chickens

Jalfrezi having a run around.  Nikon D7000
1st August 2013

A few days ago, Dory finally succumbed to old age and keeled over; she was at least 9 years old which is not bad for a chicken.

We have two new chickens now; they were not happy at standing still for the camera, so this is the best I got.

This is "chicken Jalfrezi" (yes in keeping with our "Chicken Tikka" and "Chicken Korma" naming system) and she is a Partridge Leghorn (white eggs hopefully).  We also have a Columbine which in theory lays blue eggs; she is rather fiery in nature so has been called "chicken Vindaloo".

Hopefully it will be omelette time soon!