Monday 21 September 2015

Going for a quick log in the woods

Logs.  Canon S120
31st August 2015

The weather has been damp today, so we took the dogs to the woods for a run where it was a little more sheltered.

The path was liquid in many places; it shows how wet the summer has been, although Muppet was in his element!

The folks who manage the woods have been busy over the summer months though and there are lots of log piles; Xena had great fun sniffing around to see if she could find any critters hiding amongst the trunks.

Brown and tasty, but with a sting ...

Over ripe figs.  Nikon D200
30th August 2015

While we were away in France, the fig trees went nuts.   There are stacks of ripe fruit just calling to be picked.   There were a fair few of the fruits which have gone over, but the birds are seeing to those ones.

While picking some of the riper fruits today, I also realised that the wasps are making a meal of ones that are very ripe and have split with the recent rain


One little sod stung me on the side of the finger!

I will be wearing my thick red rubber gloves from now on to pick the fruit :(

More than just a Hamlet

London Tower Block.  Canon S120
29th August 2015

We had a trip to London today to see the chap who plays Sherlock play Hamlet instead.   He made a really good job of the part, although a Deer Stalker hat would not have been amiss occasionally.

On the way to the theatre, I tried to count how many flats were in some of the tower blocks; there are probably more folks living in this block than some rural villages, let alone some of the isolated hamlets.

Many legs run riot

Caterpillar.  Nikon D200
28th August 2015

We have arrived back home to find that while in France, a mass of caterpillars have hatched out in the veg plot; there are scenes of devastation with not even stalks left in some cases.

Luckily the Nasturtiums have taken the brunt of the munching and most of the other plants are safe.

Big Pink Head

Hydrangeas, Canon S120
27th August 2015

The local landscape here in France is quite chalky and alkaline.   The local hydrangeas in the area all demonstrate just quite how alkaline the soil is; they all grow with varying shades and intensities of pink.

They seem to rather like the climate with the bushes being covered by massive large pink flower heads.

A dash of vinegar may be what is called for to dampen the pinks to a powder blue.

Colours: Green and Pointy

Green Tomatoes.  Nikon D7000
26th August 2015

The summer has not been a good tomato year apparently.  Our hosts here in France grow a spectacular range of different varieties, but the harvest has been poor so far.

These tomatoes are still green, but at least they have an interesting shape.

DIY itching powder

Rose hips.  Nikon D7000
25th August 2015

I remember as a child that there was a 'joke' stall sometimes at the local market; a deep crowd of like-minded kids were always crowded around it and the stall's daily take must have been huge.

The usual 'fly in the ice cube' was fun, and the 'Whoopee Cushion' caused great mirth until it was sat on far too hard and burst.

But the more subtle jokes, such as lacing one's sisters clothes with itching powder, were sometimes more satisfying :)

The only issue was that a decent supply of itching powder was needed to ensure that at least one item of clothing was worn (in particular on April Fool's day, but action on any other day was also welcome).  I am not sure which adult let slip the secret, but a rose hip this size would certainly have made me smile with the thought of how many thousands of tiny scratchy hairs it had inside; just waiting to be fluffed up and released onto an unwilling victim!

Windy Day

Strong Winds.  Nikon D7000
24th August 2015

Today has been rather exiting; the wind was blowing super strong today.   There are leaves and branches fallen all around, and reports of many trees down in the local area.

The local wind turbines were spinning scarily fast too!

Weathered Back Door

Old Door. Canon S120
23rd August 2015

We had a day out to the Il de RĂ© today.   We wandered through the narrow streets, admiring the old fishing cottages and then stumbled across this old door at the end of a garden.

It was probably a very useful access way at one time, however I think that if it is opened again, it will be its last time open and some serious repair work would be required.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Start Preying...

Mantis.  Nikon D7000
22nd August 2015

There are some insects which are not common in the UK, but are occasional visitors here in France.

Today I saw my first Preying Mantis close up.   It was smaller than I thought, but it was very kind and stayed still for long enough while I took lots of photos of it.

Look out bugs!

Bed Fellow

Toad.  Canon S120
21st August 2015

We have finished camping today.  When we moved Alex's tent, we found this chappie had been sleeping with him.

Alex was not impressed.

Sand Fish

Sand Fish.  Canon S120
20th August 2015

We went to the beach today.  The sun was strong and the wind was light.

The kids had fun in the tide, while I helped Alex dig holes and make 'things' in the sand.   We made an octopus, a whale, a squid, and this fish.

We also buried Alex and made him into a mermaid :)


Backlit leaves.  Nikon D7000
19th August 2015

While walking through the forest today, the sun was shining hard though the leaves on the trees.  

The contrast between the lit-up green leaves against the dark negative space caught my eye.

Punk tree

Pink tree flowers.  Nikon D7000
18th August 2015

I have seen this tree in previous years at the campsite, but this year we have caught it flower again.

It has pretty pink flowers made up of many small fronds.

It reminds me a bit of a punk hairstyle, but I have lost too much of my head now to stand any chance of mimicking it.

Noisy Grasses

Dry Grass.  Canon S120
17th August 2015

We are on our holidays at last :)

We stopped today for lunch and there was a large collection of ornamental grasses swaying in the breeze.  France has had enough dry weather to ensure that there was quite a significant sound emanating from the grassy knoll.

I liked the range of brown tones too, along with the contrast of the spiky grass fronds against the bokeh background.

Black and tasty

First Blackberries.  Nikon D200
16th August 2015

I managed to get a first picking of enough blackberries, along with a clutch of windfall apples, to make a first summer fruit crumble.

Yummy :)

In need of weeding

Pond weed.  Nikon D200
15th August 2015

The pond has recently developed a green covering as the duck weed has multiplied rapidly in the sun.

I think a skim with a net is needed before Muppet decides to try and walk across it!

Frayed Head

Kids Toothbrush.  Canon S120
14th August 2015

Like the love for a pair of well worn shoes, trying to persuade the children to change their toothbrush is sometimes difficult.

This particular brush has seen much better days.

I am not sure which child it belongs too, but given the challenge we have of getting Alex to brush his teeth at all, his brushes last a very long time.

Everyday Objects: Cocktail Sticks

Cocktail Sticks.  Nikon D200
13th August 2015

I thought I would take a picture which was a little more abstract today.   I broke out the macro lens (an old 100mm fixed-focus lens on the end of a 68mm extension tube) and went hunting for subjects.

The pot of cocktail sticks took my fancy, although it looks more like part of a hedgehog.

Corn Spider

Spider.  Nikon D200
12th August 2015

The sweetcorn is growing well in the garden at the moment; although it may be too late to crop well unfortunately.

I spotted a spider looking for somewhere to spin a web today.  The Nasturtiums are below and their bright blooms attract lots of insects, so the spider may have picked a good spot

Evening Light

Sunset clouds.  Nikon D200
11th August 2015

Only a month and a half since midsummer and it is just becoming noticeable that the days are getting slightly shorter again.

This evening, there were only a few high clouds in the sky and they lit up pink against the blue as the sun set.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Its not a parrot

Dead Grasshopper.  Nikon D200
10th August 2015

There was a deceased grasshopper on the patio this morning.   It was in such good condition (apart from being dead) that it seemed too good a photographic opportunity to miss .

I wondered what to do with it once I had taken its picture; I did consider keeping it, but thought that if Alex found it, he may find a use for it (such as on Lizzy's pillow).  

The compost bin is its final resting place.

New Growth

Clematis new growth.  Nikon D200
9th August 2015

The clematis on the patio has grown a huge amount this Spring, and is still growing really well now.

I have emptied Muppet's paddling pool onto it a few times when the rain water that has collected is beginning to look rather smeggy; that has probably really helped.  There are a few signs that the clematis may be starting to flower again too.


Open pine cone.  Nikon D200
8th August 2015

Pine cones are meant to be able to forecast the weather.  I could never remember whether open meant sun, or was it closed?

What I do know from this cone is that last night was very windy!

Flant Day

Flying Ants.  Canon S120
7th August 2015

I was working outside today with a radar, and wondered what was causing lots of small signals in the data.

I looked down to see that today is Flying Ant day and thousands of winged ants were trying out their novel flappy devices.

They all seemed bemused and lost with the ability to take to the air.

Last but not forgotten

Last Cherry.  Nikon D200
6th August 2015

The pigeons hit the cherry blossom hard earlier in the year, limiting what fruit was left to develop; the blackbirds then pecked out any red bits that developed on the young fruit; then the blackfly sucked the life out of the what was left.

Here is the last cherry left for me; pecked clean to the stone and then sucked dry.    I can net the tree to stop the birds, but it will need to be a very fine mesh to stop the blackfly.

Waste for the worms

Fallen bird seed.  Nikon D200
5th August 2015

Like a good boy, I put out birdseed each morning to try to keep our local sparrow population healthy.

The pigeons take a share too which is not ideal, but it seems that all of the birds are quite selective and just toss the corn kernels to the floor.

The Robin gathers a few of these, a few more are taken by the odd escaping chicken, and the rest are for the worms.

Bugs in your trumpet

Nasturtiums with added bugs.  Nikon D200
4th August 2015

There are lots of Nasturtiums in flower still.  The flowers are edible with a nice peppery taste.

Although looking at this flower, I am not sure if it is the bloom which tasted peppery, or was it the taste of the bugs inside it?

Return of the brown rot

Manky Apple.  Nikon D200
3rd August 2015

Over the last few years, we have lost a lot of fruit to the dreaded brown rot.   It looks like this year will be no different as the this apple fell from the tree recently; usually the apples fall in good condition but rot quickly when on the ground.

The cooking apple tree is almost breaking under the weight of apples though, so I am sure I will get plenty for crumbles.

A bit of Summer Fluff

Seed fluff.  Canon S120
2nd August 2015

As Summer is progressing, the first of the seed heads are starting to burst.  These thistles were all bursting together this morning; creating large balls of fluff.

The wind will soon spread these around, although I realised there was another ball of fluff at knee level and they stick well to my trousers!

Friday 18 September 2015

Cruising the Blue

Seagull.  Nikon D7000
1st August 2015

The sky was clear and blue today.  This seagull spent some time circling the garden, leaving me time to follow it and photograph it.

It is always amazing how they make gliding look so effortless, in comparison to the sparrows which seem to be all flap.

Pond Life

Pond Larvae.  Nikon D200
31st July 2015

The fish in the pond did not survive the Winter; the life in the pond has changed this year.

The water today was thick with larvae of some insect critter.  

Sod's law says is some evil biting bug rather than something pretty.

Bug's Life

Bug.  Nikon D200
30th July 2015

I broke out the macro lens again today and took a walk around the garden.   I found this 14-spot ladybird hunting aphids for its lunch.

I do not see many 14-spot ones, but they are always welcome; I moved it over to the cherry tree where there is more than enough black-fly to keep a family of these chaps busy for a lifetime.

Sunset and shadows

Stones at Avebury.  Canon S120
29th July 2015

This evening on the way back from fencing, the sun was just setting behind the standing stones at Avebury.  I managed to time catching these two stones just right so that their shadows ran together into one.

It is almost as if the stones were placed just right....

Sub 100 :)

Diesel Prices.  Canon S120
28th July 2015

With the low oil prices, the cost of Diesel has been reducing slowly over the last few months.  Today I also had the opertunity to get 20p a litre off from the shopping we have done at the supermarket.

It has been many years since the price has been below £1 a litre.  It will not last however.

After a Mow

Going Grey.  Nikon D200
27th July 2015

It had been a while since my last hair cut, so there was a fair bit of trimmings left for the birds to use to line their nests.

It is mostly the sides that are still producing hair these days; the top of my head is slowing.  It is also looking more grey each mow.

Faded but Photogenic

Old flowers.  Nikon D200
26th July 2015

The flowers in the living room last for quite some time, but I find them more interesting to photograph when they have gone well past their prime.

They do not make quite such good decorations for the last week while they are 'becoming' more photogenic.

Awaiting Transport

Sticky Buds.  Nikon D200
25th July 2015

There are many weeds in the veg plot this year; these chappies have a mechanism for escaping the fence by hooking onto your trousers and socks as you walk by.

Strangely, for once they do not seem to stick to Muppet's fur; although they have not come into contact with his ears yet!


Rain.  Nikon D200
24th July 2015

The dry weather ended today with a sustained heavy downpour.  The water ran off the roof so fast, the soak-away could not cope and the water backed-up the drainpipe.

The ensuing fountain was quite a sight; it is a good job the camera is waterproof too!

Dry Fly

Fly.  Nikon D200
23rd July 2015

The dry weather is continuing and there are many flies around the veg plot.  This fly kept revisiting the same place, allowing me to get close with a macro lens setup and capture its picture.

Wot no Water?

Dry stream.  Canon S120
22nd July 2015

Muppet loves water, but not as much as he likes mud.  His favourite is to get soaking wet, and then roll around in soil to make his own mud.

The recent dry weather and lack of rain has meant is options for getting wet are very limited.

He has discovered that the stream bed is not quite dry yet and is scrummy sticky mud which he can cover his paws in...

Fruity toys

Xena with the ball.  Nikon D200
21st July 2015

The dogs were having fun in the garden today, but they could not decide on exactly what to chase around with.  The ball was the toy of choice for a while, but as it is very punctured, it has to be thrown rather than kicked.

Muppet can see the ball, although cannot catch it still.  He decided that the windfall apples were much more fun, albeit a touch sour as they are far from ripe yet.

Muppet with an apple.  Nikon D200

Earwig go

Earwig on Bramble.  Canon S120
20th July 2015

There is lots of promise for fruit later in the year; the brambles are covered in flower.

This Earwig seemed to be having a go at helping with the pollination too.  Hopefully it will not hang around until the fruit forms unless it would like pride of place in a blackberry and apple crumble.