Tag Archives: spring

Spring is sprung, at last

At last, the blackthorn is in full bloom! One of the sights of spring. This year it’s late, of course, but better late then never.

Hawthorne in all its splendour

Blackthorn in all its splendour

I’ve been to take photographs in this spot every year for the last decade or so. It’s become a ritual. Part of my spring.

against the light

against the light

Early morning is best. The dew is still on the grass, occasionally still frost. But the sun lights up the bushes and they glow.



The flowers have a delicate scent, again, best experienced on a bright early Sunday morning.

vanishing point

vanishing point

The dog walkers were out in force this morning. Even in some pretty remote fields I was bumping into people frequently. Everybody is so relieved that the weather is finally improving – a chance to get out into the fresh air.

gap in the hedgerow

gap in the hedgerow



Even so, hang around too long and the inevitable happens. Mind you, a shower makes for a good photograph!

caught by the storm

caught by the storm

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

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!!!

2011 – a personal review

This blog is one year old, so I thought I would do a quick review of the last 12 months, in 12 pictures. If you want to read the blog page that lies behind the picture, just click on the caption and it will take you there. Magic!

Dec/Jan, Venice in the cold:

Feb: Blackberry photos of BMW dream machines

Mar: Sailing off Mersea Island

Apr: Spring has sprung

May: Bluebell woods

Jun: The Royal Wedding

Jul: Cars!

 Aug: memories of York

Sep: kids gossiping on holiday in Italy



Oct: Italy’s sexy statues



Nov: New York, New York!

Dec: London night scenes

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

The trouble with skiing…, part 2

View onto Col de Fresse

The view onto the Col de Fresse

Having had a jolly good moan in part 1 about the amount of gear you need for skiing (scroll down below this blog page and have a look if you haven’t already seen it), there is of course another problem about skiing that I have to mention. And that is, that just occasionally, quite by accident, you fall over. In this respect I feel slightly jealous of the kids. Lower centre of gravity, younger bones, less sense of anxiety, they just bounce back up and carry on. When I fall it’s either embarrassing or it hurts. And I managed to cram in both sensations this week….

Immy takes a well earned rest (fell over...)

The first occasion was the more excruciating. I had just got off the ski lift, gently skied down to the map billboard to discuss with wife, brother- and sister-in-law which route to take; I was coming to a halt, maybe doing all of 1 mph, when I slid into 3 stranger skiers who were also standing by the board. I swear everything then happens in slow-mo: I realise I’m going over, grab onto the woman who’s next to me, which means she’s coming down with me; she clatters into the next person who also topples. Embarrassment supreme as this English nitwit manages to cause carnage whilst moving at a snail’s pace (do snails ski?). I remember I was apologising profusely in French as I went down. She’s replying ‘it’s ok’ but her look says: ‘plonker’. Skis & poles everywhere as we try to get up again…. What’s worse – no help from the rest of the family, who have turned their heads away as they crease up in laughter and don’t want to embarrass the other skiers. The humiliation!


My second tumble was not as embarrassing, but was potentially a lot more dangerous. I was piling down the giant slalom course, going as fast as I possibly could, when I lost control. Thump! went my head on the ice floor, off come the skis, and I’m sliding down the steep hill backwards at about 30 mph. I distinctly remember whacking my head (luckily wearing helmet – SO important) and thinking: ‘Ouch! that hurt, I’ve survived but I’m completely out of control, never mind, just go with it, enjoy the backwards arse slide’. By which time I’d come to a stop. Some nice French skier picked up my skis up the hill, brought them to me, enquired if I was ok, and skied off wishing me ‘have a nice day’ (?!?!?) For me, this was a lucky escape…

A tumble

Charles, on the very last moment of the very last ski, manages to fall down whilst taking his skis off. Thank God I’m not the only one…! Also I enjoyed my wife taking out my bro-in-law getting off a ski lift, highly amusing…. And below, the intrepid kids at ski school.

Ski skool!!!

So my last photo from Tignes is a pic of me practising my board jumps. Big squadgy balloon to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Love it!


The trouble with skiing…, part 1

We’ve just got back from a week’s skiing in France. Thank God we went high (Tignes), because lower down the mountain the snow is gone. But 2100+ ms, it’s still good, at least in the morning before it gets slushy…

View from L'Aiguille Percee, 2750 ms

Once I’ve got my planks on, I absolutely love it. The thrill of zooming around, carving turns, the Schuss, the odd jump with obligatory acrobatic twist, and the snow-shower-slide-to-a-halt. (OK, if that makes me sound good then I should recalibrate: basically I’m very average, one week a year – if lucky – intermediate. But I love to dream!!!)

But there is a problem with skiing – you need so much gear: the skis (of course…), poles, gloves, ski suit, boots (aaaargh!!!), helmet, goggles, sunglasses, lip sun protection, sun cream, money, ski pass, the list goes on for ever. So that was one of the themes of our holiday: Who had forgotten what, and who was going back to the chalet to pick it up?

View from bubble lift over Tignes lac (2100m) towards La Grande Motte

It all started before we left. Our skiing companions phoned from the airport (we were still at home). “Could you pop round to our house, we’ve forgotten Hannah’s ski jacket…” (How do you forget that when you’re going on a SKIING holiday?). So we did, only to find the TV still on as well (?!?). Later on we discovered they’d forgotten babysitting cover for their hamster too (??!!??). A week without food! A goldfish might just survive. Lucky Granny lives close by…

Once at the resort we had a 10 min bus ride to the ski slopes. So no-one was impressed when the kids forgot gloves at the chalet. (Sod it, just buy new ones.)

Charles conquers the mountain

I have to admit I was not immune to cocking up myself. Lipstick sun protection: I dropped it on the ski lift. So that was another replacement purchase necessary (5 Euros a stick in Tignes!). The next day I managed to get to the bus pick up stop without remembering to put in my contact lenses. So everyone buggered off up the mountain whilst I trudged back (the boots, the boots) to sort my eyes out. But it’s all worth it you see, because then you get to go up the mountain, and have incredibly expensive hot chocolate to recover.

Me and chocolate

And when we got back to Blighty I managed to leave a boot bag at the taxi rank on the drive home. Honestly, someone’s should think this through – how to cut down on the skiing clutter. And invest boots that don’t kill your feet!!!

'Eye of the Needle' close up

(If you click on the photos they should take you to see more on Flickr)

So that’s part 1. Part 2 will investigate the dramatic story of who did the most, and the most dramatic, wipeouts. Come back and have a read soon!