Tag Archives: Flowers

Dancing in Death

The French call them natures mortes, but I don’t see them as dead. And we call them still lives, but, to be honest, I don’t think they look still either. I think they’re dancing…


Slide to the right...

Swaying to the right…


Slide to the left...

Groove to the left…


My hostas are going over – it’s the time of year – but their skeletons are full of movement. A last hurrah before the cold comes in. Beautiful, right to the end.

Waves and folds

Waves and folds


and a final twirl...

and a final twirl…

Just goes to show – you never can tell!

It’s not quite the done thing to blow your own trumpet. Nor would I usually post an image that I’d already posted. But today I’m breaking the rules, and toot tooting my horn. I entered a photo competition last year, and the results came out yesterday – and my pic has done quite well…

Spring pathway, Swaledale

Spring pathway, Swaledale. Highly Commended

The International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) covers 8 categories & gets 20,000+ entries from all over the globe. So I went in for the Wildflower Landscapes section and entered 4 pictures. The odd thing is I was sure the 3 other pics were better than the one above – it was almost a throw-away last choice – but this was the one the judges went for. Highly commended was the comment, and by heck, I’m chuffed!

These are the 3 I was more convinced about:

buttercups, red clover, cranesbill

Swaledale buttercups, red clover, cranesbill

Walking through God's county

Walking through God’s county

Meadows, walls, moors

Meadows, walls, moors

If you get the chance, the IGPOTY exhibition is on at Kew Gardens until 30th March – the images are stunning when printed up nice and large. Exquisite. Or check out the website: http://www.igpoty.com/competition07/winners.asp?parent=winners

Just goes to show you never can tell, and that you should always try. Who knows what will happen?!

Walking in God’s county

I have touched the heart of England twice in the past few weeks. The first was a weekend walking in Swaledale with a friend, the second was my daughter’s school summer concert.

Swaledale, Yorkshire

Swaledale, Yorkshire

Muker meadows

Muker meadows

Late June we escaped London and hiked the low dale and high moor. Quite breathtaking…

the meadows

the meadows

buttercups, red clover, cranesbill

buttercups, red clover, cranesbill

meadows, walls, moors

meadows, walls, moors

Viking village names speak of a history that is unchanged for centuries: Muker, Keld, Thwaite. Truly a place touched by God – the shape of the dales, and by man – the partition of the land.

Stone walls and barns

Stone walls and barns

how did they get all this stone here?

how did they get all this stone here?

This is James Herriott country, the bleakness of the moors softened by the gentleness of the meadows in the dales: “The airy roof of Yorkshire. It is like taking time out of life”

View down the dale

View down the dale

Country snickleway

Country snickleway

I remember this when I was a kid. We came here and played behind this waterfall. Now they don’t like to let people venture behind – health and safety…. I went anyway, for old times sake. Sod ’em

Hardraw Force

Hardraw Force

Back home I touched England a second time. A concert at school. As a tribute to a teacher retiring after 60 years service, 2 boys sang ‘Is my team ploughing’ from Butterworth’s setting of A Shropshire Lad. Lyrical and bittersweet, hugely nostalgic. Impossible to keep a dry eye.

East Stonesdale Beck

East Stonesdale Beck

Upper Aysgarth Falls

Upper Aysgarth Falls

History of land, of loss, of remembrance, rebirth and regeneration. Swaledale and Butterworth. Of course a partial picture of England, but not a bad mix. I recommend both.

Hardraw Force waterfall

Hardraw Force waterfall

The pictures are for David, who almost admitted that this truly was God’s county. 



Turkey – photographs from paradise…

What does paradise mean to you?

Beach Feet

For me, I love a mix of beach, culture, wine/beer (depending on how hot it is), fun for the kids, and a bit of excitement thrown in. All of these are readily available in Turkey. For Mrs Peck you need to add shopping, so that’s where we should start – in the market…

Kemal Ataturk welcoming us to the bazaar!

Must be a bargain here somewhere…

But enough of that! What about the culture, the history, the sights and the sites & the stories? Let’s start with the high-brow. Every evening we were plunged into Turkish delight, and I must admit – I really enjoyed it!

an ancient dance

Immy, not one to pass up a chance to show off, thought she could do better:


Once the evening culture had been fully appreciated, it was time to get up very early morning to beat the crowds to the classic culture. Ephesus, truly astounding, one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. Well, the Temple of Artemis to be precise. That’s crumbled, but no problem – there is still much to wonder at.

it’s HUGE!!!

I asked everyone what sort of Greek/Turk they would want to be. To my surprise, everyone said philosopher. So I got everyone to pose. I show these pix, not because of any artistic merit, but simply because it shows up the vanity of family and friends. Here goes:

Aha! Charles, The Thinker…

Immy. Started thinking, ended up dancing, again.

Mark – no thinking cap, thinking sunglasses!

Matthew – cut the bull, I’m a gladiator!

And me? Well, I’m an actor by heart. So I got into the, still fully functioning, theatre, and gave some impromptu Shakespeare (“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears….”) much to the surprise of the Japanese tourists who had just arrived from the cruise ship…

This place is awesome, (in the correct sense of the word)

What a beautiful place! We were there in May, and the poppies were out. Colour and scent everywhere.

On the road, next to our hosts’ villa.

Can’t beat an olive tree for character.

So thank you to our good friends, the Aldersons, for inviting us to come over. And thank you to Turkey for being lovely, inviting, generous and exciting. Not a bad mix for Paradise…

Dusk at the beach

(And I haven’t even got to the sky-diving, safari water gun shoot out, steak eating competition, or Zeus’s cave…! A later blog, no doubt…)

Woodland in Blue

Last weekend was dreary. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Cocooning warmth vs the eternal drizzle of the wettest spring in decades. But then the inner voice – “you’ve got to go to the Bluebell wood today, because next weekend it will all be gone!” So I dragged myself out of bed, and thank God I did….

The farmer planted rape this year – he’s a colour artist

A the vibrant zing of contrasting colours. In a weird way the incessant mizzling makes the colours leap out even more. The woodland is an enchanting place. No other people around, but the wildlife seems to be erupting everywhere. A cacophony of sound – mainly from the birds; within 15 minutes I’ve seen deer, fox, pheasant, kites, squirrels and rabbits.

stitched panorama

In fact, I think I’ve disturbed the fox. He’s clearly more intent on the pheasant than on me. And once the pheasant explodes into the air, cracking wings and squawking in panic, I swear the fox gives me a disgusted look as he lopes off into the undergrowth.

Woodland track

Having ruined the fox’s breakfast, I then manage to disturb the deer too. In the middle of the wood, surrounded by bluebells, a young deer. Being the advanced photographer that I am, I have the camera switched off, wrong lens, and have to put down tripod and backpack gear before I can raise camera to eye. By that time – no deer anymore. Ah well, that’s one that got away…

Blue star

Even the kite, screeching away as he circles over the wood, seems to mock my efforts to photograph the wildlife. So, thank heavens the flowers can’t move! In contrast to all the fauna, the flora revels in posing for the camera. To the benefit of the enchanted wood! Ah, the warm bed might entice with its soft folds. But that is a momentary pleasure easily forgotten. My morning in the enchanted wood… That will stay with me forever.

Bluebells and rape field

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Blue is the colour

Dick Turpin in Epping Forest

Mother-in-law’s poison!

Little did I realise, when my mother-in-law came for dinner, that she had brought poison into the house!

Ranunculus – beware…

These deadly plants – if you eat them – are growing in her garden. So, she brought a posey to put on our dining table. And very colourful they are. But pretty dangerous too….

Beautiful and deadly

This is not the plant you want to eat. (Not that we were planning on eating it – Roast duck actually with a fine Rhone wine, cooked by Mrs P no less!) I take it on good authority that there is an acrid taste, intense blistering to the mouth. Ingesting will cause excessive salivation and bloody diarrhoea…!

What a pink!

blinding yellow!

Beauty often hides a darker side. Lured in, captivated and entranced, only to be stung. Such is the power of deceptive plants…

hooded and hidden heart

Vicious fiery intensity

No respite in that poisonous green

So, poison from the garden, placed meekly in the vase on the dining table. From the mother-in-law! And who would know this dangerous plant’s common name? Ranunculus = the buttercup!

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Every cloud has a silver lining…

Frothy White Easter

The Easter weekend – time to celebrate that Spring has sprung! The hawthorne is out 3 weeks earlier than usual this year, and it looks as spectacular as ever.

The hawthorne blossom

A fluffy delight.

Epping Forest bursts back into life

Wake Valley Pond

Epping Forest country lane

The hawthorne is pretty difficult to photograph – I’m never really satisfied with my shots. But I keep trying, every year. And regardless of the final images, I get a strong sense that Spring is here, bubbling over in its frothy whiteness. Gorgeous! Bring on the warmer weather!!!

Every cloud has a silver lining…

What has happened to our summer? Where is our sun? April was hot, July has been damp…. But it does mean that the gardens look good, and that was brought to the fore this weekend when we went to Whately Manor in the Cotswolds, all very lush….

A fine English garden

What a place this is! A spa – where of course Mrs Peck indulged, expensively; a huge bedroom which was so large the four poster looked.., well,… small (it wasn’t), And frankly, after I had had my arm twisted to drink yet another Vodka Martini by J. Carter I needed a big bed to space out!  A lovely michelin starred restaurant – heavenly cooking: perhaps the best English breakfast I’ve ever had (once I managed to get up).

Come on in...

But the best were the gardens. Quintessentially English, immaculately tendered, soft, lush and full of colour.

Meadow flowers

The hot border

So every cloud has a silver lining. Especially these clouds – they have brought the best out of the gardens. Such is life in England…

Lush flowers and Cotswold stone.

Blue is the colour!

Every year I go out and try and take a good photo of the bluebells. It’s not easy – the blue comes out purple if there’s any sunshine because the flowers reflect ultra violet. So the recent weather hasn’t exactly been good for (bluebell) photography! On reflection, I think the best weather for bluebells is mizzle but we’ve had solid sunshine for weeks and weeks now Bring back the rain (joking – we Brits are simply never happy whatever the weather!!!)

Flower portrait

The straight shot

Below I’ve gone for the abstract view and played about with the camera. Quite liberating! (Honest, this wasn’t just me dropping the camera at the wrong (right?) moment…

The abstract shot

A friend has got a print of this one in his loo. Freshens things up, I suppose….

The classic shot

This is one of my earliest pictures – on Velvia film, hence the slightly weird colour cast I think. From a bluebell wood just of the A59 near Poppleton, York.

My favourite shot

If it’s not good enough, you’re not close enough! Macro Flowers.

I’ve just been going back through my files. It’s really weird to look back at what I was photographing 10 years ago. My first real subject was flowers, and close up at that. I got quite passionate about flowers, I guess I still am, and I loved taking my time, getting in really close, using the macro lens and a tripod, and trying to capture form, colour, shape, texture and line.

A common-or-garden poppy

Amazing, I think, that such beauty exists all around us, in the most ordinary things, and that we usually just pass them by without really noticing them. But that is exactly what photography forces you to do: to look, closely. The most common things become quite breath-taking. Here’s another poppy:

Another back garden poppy

There were 2 photographers who were inspirational when it came to flowers. The first is Clive Nichols, whose book New Shoots, is very much the style that I’ve copied here. The second is Robert Mapplethorpe, who is known for a quite different lens subject matter. When you realise that he died in the 90s in New York from Aids you’ll get a sense of what scene he was best known for. His pictures are truly superb, and his black and white flower photos are exquisite. Check out his book ‘Pistils’. I don’t have his eye, or his skill, yet. But I’m working towards it. In the meantime, here are a few Ranunculii:

Yellow ranunculus

These flower heads are actually quite small. About the size of a 50 pence piece. The macro lens brings all that glorious colour and form right up close and perspective is quite lost. I rather like the abstract nature of the pic above, creamy egg yolk on top of fiery layers of gold leaf paper. Delicious.

Here’s a more realistic pic of the same genus:

Yellow ranunculus, head on.

Get in contact if you ever want a print to go on a bedroom, lounge, dining room wall (I know that some people have even got my flower pics in the loo!) I probably have a flower to match any colour scheme…

And let me know if you like the photos – you can subscribe to the blog using the button on the right hand side. Cheers!