Bluebell Time

It’s bluebell time, come on grab your friends, we’re going to visit bluebell lands…etc

I don’t know a single person that isn’t impressed with a sea of these. Let’s face it, even a single bluebell sitting on its own is pretty good. Bees especially agree.

At the weekend we had an impromptu adventure to our nearest gathering of knock your socks off bluebells. Blackbury Camp is situated on the Ottery St Mary to Seaton road and it’s beautiful and interesting at any time of the year. I wrote about it last year when I was seemingly a bit mardy. Check out my grump here.

Photographing outside views is a lot different to product photography. I’ve had more practice at the latter but not much else.  This was one of the things that was upsetting me last year. I’ve improved since then but I still don’t fully understand how to get the best shot. It’s not just about clicking away and hoping that one will turn out OK. Every picture you take should have something going for it. That’s what I think. Believe me, I totally click away and hope for the best but I also try and plan stuff too.

I wasn’t thinking about it at the time (hence the non matchy matchy) but these two pics are the left and right of the same view. We’re in an oval bowl of an iron age fort. You can run around the top “walls” or amble through the centre. What is not seen to the left is the lane that brings you here. To the right; an exit, a series of trenches and stunning views of the valley beyond. The pic above this one shows the other side of the wall and one of the trenches.

Do have bluebell woods near you? Anyone in Devon know of other pretty woods? What follows can only be described as Bluebell spam. It’s worth it though!

Spam over. And by the way, I cheated. The bumblebee shots aren’t from Blackbury Camp at all, I took them in my garden a few days before our jaunty outing! Sorry about that. The fun will never end.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Feeling the chill.

knitting-with-cake-and-teaCold innit?! I’ve put the heating on and I’ve got tea, cake and knitting. Knitting, I tell you!!  This is my first ever knitting project (not counting the endless squares and “scarves” I made as a kid or the unfinished multi colour/multi stitch jumper I attempted when I was fifteen). There will be more of this next week because I definitely want to write about it when it’s finished…

january-gardenI was planning on releasing a free crochet pattern today but a thing I ordered for it hasn’t turned up. It’s gonna be super cool, why hasn’t the postman brought me the thing I need!? Boo. Instead of crafty talk I’d better do a quick garden update. It’s been a long time since I posted anything non crafty and I feel bad that I’m ignoring the garden just cos it’s winter. Winter gardens can be beautiful too. I’ve just looked up what it was like in September. Flowers!

sun high-f-stopI took these at 8.45 this morning. Different f-stop used but the same view (I’m taking a few minutes here and there to learn about my new 50mm lens that I got for Christmas).

web frozen-himalayan-honeysuckle frosty-herb cold-plant chilly-morningCripes, it was chilly. I didn’t stay out there for long. If I took my time I could get some really nice pictures. I’m a panic picture taker though and really should give myself more time to think about things like angles, lighting and focussing properly (obvious, right?!). Also I need to give myself more time when using the camera functions; actually think about how I can employ them to their best advantage. There’s a lot to process.

ice-bucketThere are still dead sparklers in this bucket. Abandoned in November. Slovenly.

potsI’m embarrassed to say that I started to tear up some of these plants the other day. They looked just like weeds.  I’d forgotten what I’d planted and assumed that they’d be bulby type plants if I’d put them there. They’re anemones! As soon as I saw their cormy bottoms, it dawned on me and I hastily shoved them back in the pot. I hope they don’t mind too much.

Even in winter, I love my little garden. It’s a mess, but that’s allowed at this time of year. Still wondering why my purple sprouting has no purple sprouting though…

Anyway, I’m off to wait by the letterbox with my knitting. On the plus side, I might be able to get my knitting done by tonight so I can wear it out later!

 

Save

Save

Save

The Summer Garden.

early morning sweet peas.

My last garden post was about three weeks ago. In that time I’ve taken a few pictures and I’m sharing them here today. I’m also  linking to last July from the archives. It’s all of July’s posts because I seem to have added garden pictures to nearly all them. You think you’re a consistent blogger…. Apparently I’ve changed (not necessarily all that much, but most posts are now, at least themed).

lemon verbena

This lemon verbena smells amazing. I don’t know what to do with it, other that pinch bits off for whiffing every now and then.

the sun in summer sunny day in the garden 6am summer garden

There’s been a lot of samey samey over the last six years. I am extraordinarily tempted to have a big overhaul and rip out the tatty, overgrown stuff to start all over again. I’m getting lost with planting and there is no real garden design. I’m not sure if normal gardeners do any real design; maybe they just hope for the best with the stuff they like. I know I like the cottage garden style and I know I like having my own vegetable patch and that’s about it. I also know it needs is muck. Lots and lots of nutritious muck. Would half a tonne be enough for everywhere?

veg garden

There is something in the photograph above that has become my mortal enemy. I didn’t get a good picture of it that day but it was there.

pesky cabbage white

Here it is. Little blighter. Under the net as well! Most days, I’ve gone out into the veg patch with the explict task of squishing butterfly babies. I started off squeaminshly using tools but the more angry I got, the more vicious I became. Now I just use my fingers to smoosh any bright clusters of orange eggs or any newly hatched caterpillars. I’m still grossed out my the big fat juicy ones so I flick those ones across the garden or drown them with jets of water. Between this and the frog from a few weeks ago I feel like a proper murderer. I really like purple sprouting though, so they must die.

leek flower head

This is a leek flower (a leftover from last year). I was wondering what it would look like (quite pretty, as it turns out). I’m glad that it’s as pretty as its ornamental cousins.

morning glory

Morning Glory. I want more.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia. Spreading like wild fire.

Japanese anemone

Japanese anemone. The white ones don’t work as well as these.

blue lobelia

I know I showed lobelia last time but I like this picture.

Honeysuckle honeysuckle. Lonicera.

What I haven’t done in years is suck the nectar from honeysuckle. It was always something we did when we were little. That and red clover.

buddleia buddleia or buddleja

And it works with buddleia too!

cabbage white on verbena

It could have been any butterfly, maybe a peacock or red admiral. What about one of those little blue jobs? Nope… thanks cabbage white.

cabbage white butterfly on verbena bonariensis

butterfly

It was definitely laughing at me whilst it probed its teasing tongue into my verbena bonariensis. Cheeky.

bee on the verbena bonariensis bee

These bees are far more welcome. Hello bees!

A Wander Around Haytor.

Hanging out with Dartmoor ponies.

As I mentioned in my last post, we went to Dartmoor on Sunday. Mostly this was to meet with friends for lunch but we also explored Haytor too. Usually we skip the tor and go to the pretty quarry a few hundred metres away. However, the boys wanted to climb a “mountain” so we stuck to the rocks.

haytor toes.

I think the tor looks like a giant’s foot sticking out of the ground. Too many toes I know, so a mutant giant. (I know some of those people). I haven’t managed to capture the size of it (big), the walk/climb up to it is quite hard work, especially after a roast dinner (and a late night).

The quality of the picture is not that great as I’m told my ISO number was too high for outdoors. Low number for outdoorsy pics next time.

Haytor views

This is at the foot of it. It’s easy to climb as there are steps cut into it. It’s still hugely windy up there and it makes me feel uneasy. The kids could easily get whooshed off the tops of one of the toes (I wouldn’t let them up the very tops anyway and certainly not on the big toes). I didn’t take pictures up the top because of this.

Haytor rocks

Rocks n stuff.

rocks

crow.

This guy flew around quite a bit. Think he was on the look out for someone’s picnic.

Hazy hot Dartmoor day

Then there’s the obligatory Dartmoor ponies. They were quite aloof. Not interested in talking to us at all.

Plants that grow on Dartmoor.

If you look closely, there’s loads of interesting plants living in the crevices of the rocks. Not sure what this is.

Mossy rocky blanket. Haytor, Dartmoor.

I think this might be my favourite picture. I love the mossy blanket that has come away from the granite. Apparently this picture has good bokeh!

lichens

There was a lizard sunbathing on this rock. He moved so blimmin fast, he was gone before I could ask him for a picture.

From Haytor

Some bilberries (or windberries- same thing, I think) are trying to grow here. Are they a relation of the blueberry? I could be wrong about that.

And all the faces in the rocks too! I didn’t spot David Bowie any where…

Well, that was Dartmoor. A tiny bit of it anyway. It’s a pretty big chunk of Devon. And my favourite fact about Dartmoor is, it’s radioactive! If I visit enough, I’m assuming that I will get some kind of super powers. I think that’s how it works.

A quick visit to Stoke Fleming.

Blackpool Sands in a cold April.

Husband grew up here in Stoke Fleming, and his parents still live in the same house they’ve had for over forty years. It’s near the busy town of Dartmouth and the area is always rammed with visitors, especially in the summer. I remember holidaying in Stoke Fleming when I was little, completely unaware that at some point I was probably only a few metres away from future husband. When we first met, that made my mind boggle a bit. Actually, I doubt we were that near each other because I’m fairly sure that locals wouldn’t have mixed with a grockle like me!

lichen

We went and stayed last weekend and the weather was pretty bad. It changed our plans for hanging around outside all the time. We did do things but not as much as we’d hoped.

As usual I have randomly clicked away at stuff I like. I haven’t worked out an order in which to place the pictures but fingers crossed I’ll have a blog post by the end of it!

Walls and stuff. Stoke Fleming.

The rain is good for green, there was lots of green. I like all the old walls with weeds and wayside plants.

Spring flowers on our walk.

The early flowers are here with the promise of bluebells and foxgloves to come. It’s a shame it was such a grey day.

woolly bits and their sheep

Lots of lambs with their mummies. I was tempted to gather all the wool from the barbed wire but that might have been be a step too far. I’ve got enough of a wool stash already.

From Stoke Fleming to Blackpool Sands

One of things we knew the boys would like was a trip to the beach. It’s a nice walk from Grandma and Grandad’s house and not that far either. What I find funny is that you can see the sea on either side of this little lane. These gates are pretty much opposite each other.

A peek at the sea - Copy

I love the walk down to the beach, it’s exciting to catch glimpses of it through the trees. It makes me feel a little bit dizzy though as the drop is quite steep. I don’t do heights.

Sea view. Blackpool Sands - Copy

Because of the dizzy, I rushed taking pictures up here. I’m sure that’s why I’m still getting waves of dizziness right now. I was moaning about being dizzy in the week and I’m starting to wonder if this is what triggered it. I believe it’s an actual thing and I’m not just making it up!

The other end of Blackpool Sands

That’s one end of the beach.

One end of Blackpool Sands - Copy

This is the other end. This is where we explored. Somewhere in the middle of the beach is a cafe and shop. It might sound peculiar but this is where we had our wedding reception a few years ago. It’s called the Venus Cafe and it was lovely. Haven’t been for a while but it’s definitely still going.

The top end of Blackpool Sands

I like this end of the beach, there’s a river. The boys took their shoes and socks off and went for a paddle. I have no idea why, it was blinkin freezing.

river meets sea

I watched the river meet the sea. The shape of it changes all the time.

Watching the waves

I also tried to take photographs of the sea doing its thing. Some worked out alright but I need a different lense if I want to get a better picture. I didn’t fancy taking the camera any closer to the waves. I was too far away to get the full impact of them. I reckon you could make these piddly waves look fairly impressive with the right equipment.

Hedgehog pebble

Grandma found a pebble that looked like a hedgehog! He came home with us. Little eyes and everything!!

chasing blue beetles

This beastie tried to run away from me. He (she?) was beautiful! I only wanted to take a picture.

And then it was home time. The Easter holidays are just about over. Back to school tomorrow. We’ve had lots of adventures and it has been lovely. (One of my highlights was watching cows in a dairy and drinking some proper fresh cow milk. A low point was today; rushing to the train station to go on an adventure to the museum in Exeter. The museum was closed).

We’re ready to get back to normal now please.

Since it’s Spring…

pretty crocus

The garden is slowly waking up. We’re still not in “pretty” territory but it’s on its way.

spring flowers

The muscari in my garden are well behind others. I see them all over town; big and bright, in huge swathes or on their own, poking out of cracks in the pavement . This is their second year in the garden, I guess they need to establish themselves before being impressive.

New Forget Me Nots.

Forget me nots are so pretty when in their masses. In their masses they can get fungal diseases, which I think occurred last year when it was really soggy. I can see dark splotches on the leaves, which I reckon is fungal. I could tear them all up and give them a break but I’ll see how it goes.

Celandines.

Celandines are usually one of the first flowers to come round after winter. I would have had more but when we first moved in I ripped them all out. I didn’t know what they wear. They’d probably be considered weeds in someone else’s garden but I like the bright they bring.

Budding branches.

Living twigs. That’s the fig on the left and on the right is some sort of miniature cherry relative. Dancing with the butterflies? Something like that.

Crocus in the garden.

The crocuses in my garden are few and far between. I must have planted hundreds of bulbs in all the autumns we’ve lived here and yet I see very few waiting to come back after each of their first appearances.

Peony in March

Isn’t this a bit early for a peony? I used the macro lense for this but I struggle to see where the focus is and so I wiggle the lense miniscule amounts and take a picture at each wiggle (I know where I want the focus to be but it doesn’t always end up in the right place) . The margin for accurate focus is barely anything. I think I’m doing something wrong.

Erysimum.

I’ve had erysimum all through the winter. It’s gone straggly but it’s still flowering.

Daffodils still going.

There are still lots of daffs going strong. I’m amazed how long the season has been.

garden waking up.

This is the biggest area for flowers, down at the bottom of the garden. See? It hasn’t quite got there yet. There’s a lot more green than there was a couple of weeks ago though. And look at the first garden pictures I posted ten months ago (scroll past the shawl). Let’s see how it looks in another two months!

 

More playing with my Canon 600D.

Marceline the tortoiseshell cat.

I haven’t had many opportunities to play with the camera over the last couple of weeks. Some days it won’t cross my mind at all that I should be learning how to use my lovely Christmas present. I’m not going to obsess over it and I’m not going to write continuous blog posts either. The excitement will probably wear off soon enough.

winter garden

Last weekend I thought that I should probably have a go on it. Keep up with the learning. I went into the garden to see what was going on. Bulbs have sprouted and are flowering early.

berry

With the macro lense added I went in seach of some interesting things. I have no idea why I like the berry picture, I just do. First lesson to learn when taking close ups of stuff? Don’t let your over long fringe cast a shadow over the thing you want to photograph.

snowdrops with macro

Initially I took pictures on the basic manual setting but then I twigged that I should be using the macro setting. I know this. It’s simple. I keep forgetting. It’s good to know that there are similar functions that I recognise from my old compact jobbie. However, if I want to use the camera properly, I can’t rely on them either.

a snow drop with macro lense

It’s a good start though. I’m happy with the results. I could be satisfied just twiddling the main dial but it isn’t the same as understanding all the abilities of a fancy SLR. I’m pleased they’re there though.

Marceline using Portrait

I didn’t have long so I tried something else. Marceline got the Portrait treatment. It gave her a better colour. The standard Auto was dull and grainy(I deleted those). Then it was time to stop playing and hide camera away from my grubby little children.

Daffodils on iso.

Yesterday, a week later, I went outside again. I only had five minutes to experiment with a new function I’d read about. I’ve found a great little blog series that has taken away a lot of the fear of posh photograph taking. Consequently, I’ve found a new button. The ISO button. I’ll look up ISO in a minute. Something to do with light. Anyway, the daffodils have started to arrive. Think these are Tete a Tete.

playing with iso

Here are the shop bought daffs. Obvs, they need chucking. The light differences are just the changing of the ISO button. Interesting… But also, the camera is on the P setting and I can’t remember what the instructions said what that meant. It’s all the combinations that get me. You might have the right ISO number set but what if you haven’t twiddled the dial to the right bit? So much information and that’s just an iceberg’s tip.

playing with the iso

Here is Marceline on the highest ISO number. Both she and the crochet are (kind of) in focus.

playing with iso function

The number went mega low and I focussed on the blanket I’m supposed to be working on right now.

iso function playing

Then I focussed on Miss Marcy. And, what’s good is that I totally meant to do these things!

Indoor daffs.

These have come along nicely in the last week. They belong to Eldest boy who planted them with Granny in the autumn. They were in the shed for a few months before I remembered to go and get them.

growing indoor daffs.

The ISO thing also means you can make blurry backgrounds to hide ugly things that lurk behind stuff you want to take pictures of. I don’t always get an accurate focus on the exact bit I want. Is it my eyes or the camera that’s not doing a proper job? Probably the wrong setting.

At this stage I took some pictures of the Spice of Life crochet blanket. I was going to add them here showing similar things about focussing on diffferent sections of the blanket.  However, I’m almost finished and I think I’ll save them for another time. I think it’s enough that you know I’ve read what Aperture means.

 

 

 

Playing with my new Canon 600D!

First daffodils of the season

I got a new camera for Christmas! It is a Canon 600D SLR. I was exceedingly happy to receive it, it was a complete surprise and also something I really wanted. I had talked about it all year but I didn’t think I’d actually get one! It’s not brand new, but whoever owned it before must have really looked after it because it’s so lovely and spanky.

indoor bulbs

So I’ve been playing around with it. At this stage I still haven’t plucked up the courage to read the manual. I’m using the excuse that it’ll be full of gobbledegook that I don’t get. I know nothing. I have managed to turn it on and Husband has pointed out what a couple of the dials and buttons do (he did a photography module at university). When I first got it I didn’t even know how to put the lense cap on and I still don’t know what “aperture” means.

playing with my camera- daffs

I’ve been playing with the manual settings because the auto function flashes at everything. I’ll find out how to switch that off. What a twonk, sounds pathetic. Before the end of the year I will be a super expert and then I’ll stamp down on my current self in great shame and anger.

First daffs-playing with camera

I find the lighting confusing too, I know the dial which lets more light in or reduces it and that’s helped for some of the macro shots I’ve tried. The two pictures above were taken about an hour apart. By the time I’d taken the second picture, the sun had started to come round to the front of the house and whilst neither of the photos are any where near perfect, you can see the the sun makes it have a nice glow. Anyway I shan’t discuss it more for fear of sounding like a fool. Practice practice blah blah.

Ladybird Books. The collection so far...

So I went round the house taking pictures of things (whilst Toddler was at his very first pre-school session!). The Ladybird books are on the other side of the house so I twiddled the dial to let in more light but the picture is still not crispy, as I’d hoped. I can’t work out how to get it done right. Is it the light or my trouble with the focus? Or something else? Er, I dunno. Yet.

Lego picture

Another place in the house. Lego. Lots of Lego.

Lego X-Wing

The first weekend of the year was spent playing with all the Lego. Eldest boy and Daddy found some X-Wing instructions online and spent hours and hours building a hotchpotch Star Wars starfighter! I know with absolute certainty that Eldest is very pleased with it. I know this because it is still intact. No Lego builds ever stay together for this long.

Old Lego X-Wing

Anyway, that is what I got up to yesterday. Onwards and upwards and all that. Will try not to tread on any camera peeps toes. 😛