Card – Weekly Photo Challenge

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Week 2 of the Weekly Photo Challenge has indeed been very challenging and I haven’t enjoyed it as much as last week’s.  The theme is ‘Card’.  I have pondered and pondered and I was going to go to the local art shop to take a photo of all the coloured card but I have hurt my arm so am not driving and so no visit to the art shop.

Instead I have dug out my Memory Box and the photograph above is of a selection of cards from my family.  There are birthday cards, Christmas cards, Mothers Days cards.  I don’t keep the cards every year but every so often there is one that feels special or I am feeling particularly sentimental.  My favourites are the ones the boys have made me over the years often featuring flowers whether home-made or downloaded from the internet.  These days being busy men they don’t have time, or I am sure the inclination, to make cards but their bought cards are as special to me as I know they spend time choosing them. Regardless of whether they are made or bought they come with love and that is what really matters.

For more ‘Card’ photo blog posts visit Life and Thyme. Next week’s theme is ‘Awkward’ which actually might be more challenging than ‘Card’!

Ceiling

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This year I have decided to try and participate in the weekly photo challenge set by Cathy, Sandra, Melissa and Jane – I came across it via Cathy’s blog.  I like the idea that they have published the list of weekly challenges at the start of the year so lots of time to ponder.

Anyway, this week’s theme is ‘Ceiling’ and my immediate reaction was to post the above photograph.  I take few pictures of interiors unless I am in some historic building and to be honest I am happier when I am outside.  I have developed a bit of a thing over the last year of taking photographs looking up through tree canopies, I love the light play especially through fresh spring or autumn leaves.  Of course this photograph is a winter’s scene but still the contrast of the bright blue sky last weekend and the trees’ silhouettes was enough to stop me on my walk to try and capture it.

As this blog is primarily a gardening blog I think a ceiling of trees is very apt.  Now to ponder next week’s theme of card!

Path

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“But the beauty is in the walking – we are betrayed by destinations” – Welsh poet Gwyn Thomas

Having to some degree drifted through life for the last 10  years or so in the same job, the same house and with little variation in my daily life or past-times 2016 has presented me with a number of new paths to traverse; some more tortuous than others.

The photographs on this post represent what I consider the most beneficial new path I have travelled this year.  As I have posted before my eldest set me a challenge to walk to the top of all the peaks of the Malvern Hills.  I have to admit to not having completed the challenge, there is one peak not ticked off, but the challenge has had unexpected benefits.  It has given me an appreciation of the joys of walking on the hills, well to be honest just walking in the countryside.  I particularly like walking first thing in the morning or early evening when it is quieter and the wildlife is more active. I am so lucky to live where I do that I can walk on the nearby common in the evenings during the summer – a fantastic way to de-stress after work.

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Work has been, and continues to be, a more uncertain path.  My job has changed significantly over the last year. There have been new challenges, some I feel I have risen to well and others not so much, my new role continues to be developed and it will probably be some months before it is all sorted and confirmed.  In the meantime I go through periods of extreme anxiety and self-doubt and have had to try to learn to manage these as best as I can.

This anxiety has impacted on other aspects of my life, and if I am honest I think I am still struggling with grief from losing my father just over two years ago.  In terms of my preferred past time of gardening it feels as though the path has been blocked for some time and I have tried various alternative routes around or over the blockage but none of them have been successful. Just as when you try to avoid a traffic jam by going on a long circuitous route only to find yourself behind the same car, I have realised that patience is what is needed.

However, one of my diversions has resulted a lovely new destination.  In need of an escape from my unfulfilling pastime activities I joined my local Embroiders Guild.  I have been welcomed by a lovely group of ladies and my enjoyment for sewing, particularly embroidery, has been truly reignited. Whilst the creativity of sewing is rewarding it is also the rhythm of embroidery, it is a wonderful calming experience.

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With 2017 just around the corner I now feel like I am moving forward more positively, more self-aware and with a new determination to do and achieve what I want to.

This post was written in response to the weekly wordpress photo challenge with the theme of ‘path’ – it wasn’t the post I intended but sometimes it is better to go along the unexpected path.

 

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Treat: Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

Iris unguicularis 'Walter Butt'
Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

Today’s post is in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Treat.”

I have been completely enthralled by the flowers of Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’, a real treat on a cool misty day.  This is the plant’s third year of flowering and last year the paltry two flowers didn’t start to appear until Boxing Day.  So I was completely stunned when something pale and paper like appeared towards the top of the steps at the weekend.  On investigating I discovered not one but three flowers and when I cleared away some of the fallen leaves there are clear signs that there are many flowers to follow – how thrilling.

As for Walter Butt who the plant is named after, he was the former owner of E Bertram Anderson’s house in Porlock.  Anderson (1885-1971), a distinguished plantsman,  worked as a chemist and bacteriologist before retiring to Porlock in Somerset. He was a founder member of the RHS Joint Rock Garden Plant Committee which first met in 1936. Other members included E A Bowles and Walter Ingerswen both with huge reputations in the alpine and bulb worlds and reading the article about Anderson in the RHS ‘The Plantsman’ (Dec 2010) it is clear that Anderson was one of those plantsmen who seemed to have been part of a cycle of eminent horticulturists all sharing information and plants. Anderson is well known for  his raising of the beautiful Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ (Katherine Hodgkin was the wife of his friend Elliot Hodgkin). He was also responsible for raising Galanthus ‘John Gray’ and Galanthus ‘Mighty Atomas well as collaborating with Helen Ballard in the raising of new hellebores and numerous other plants.

Going back to my iris, Anderson considered it as ‘noteworthy because of its size, very pale lavender flowers, almost white in the sun, and its strong perfume’ a description I completely agree with – indeed it is a real treat.

 

Careful – Weekly Photo Challenge

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This week’s  Daily Post’s  photo challenge theme is  “Careful.”  

‘Careful’ makes me think of small things.  We are careful with babies, small children, delicate ornaments for fear of injuring them.  “But what am I careful with I wondered” and more importantly I added “that I can illustrate with a photo”. Fiddly things come to mind, things I have to focus on – so sowing seeds and embroidery.  “Easy” I thought “I’ll take a photo of my current embroidery project”.

Foolish me, it’s not easy to take a photo of yourself sewing; not unless you have someone else to take the photo or you can set the camera up on a stand.  How do you focus the camera on your own hand when you have to hold the camera?  Impossible.  So I have ended up with a photograph of my embroidery without my hand doing careful sewing.  It is a careful occupation and the photograph was taken carefully – so I have doubly completed the challenge!

Extraordinary

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Here is my response to WordPress’ weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

I thought for a while about what I might have seen this year that was extraordinary. I was reminded of my trip back in May when I took my Mum to Rome.  She had a desire to see the Trevi Foundation whilst I was determined we would go to the Pantheon and see its amazing brick-built dome; the largest unsupported dome in the world.  My mother was rather blank about this place I kept mentioning. Luckily it wasn’t that far from the Trevi Fountain and with lots of eateries in the small roads around it an ideal lunch destination.

I have been to the Pantheon once before; some 9 years ago the day after my 40th birthday.  I was in Rome on a mad work trip which lasted little more than 24 hours.  Our hosts were so determined that I should see the sights that we did a tour of Rome at midnight which was quite magical but the Pantheon was the one place we couldn’t look inside at that time of night.

I am so glad that I insisted we went to the Pantheon.  It was the highlight of the trip for me.  I found the vastness of the interior awesome especially when you think it was built around 125 AD in the reign of Hadrian, he of the long wall. The opening at the top of the roof is 8.8m in diameter that’s 28.87 ft ; the total diameter is 43.2m (141.73ft). Added to this is its religious significance. I’m not a religious person but whatever your faith or lack of faith you cannot help but be moved by the religious imagery throughout the building.

The Pantheon – a truly extraordinary place.

 

My Happy Place

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”:

I haven’t done the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for a while but this week’s challenge of My Happy Place spoke to me.

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I am going through a period of what I call black dog days at the moment.  I have written about it before and amazingly it is one of my popular posts.  Anyway, today has been a challenging day but I managed not to  resort to fleeing home to escape from the strange unknown forces that cause me to feel emotionally at sea.

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I am in need of visiting a Happy Place, somewhere quiet where my introvert self can be at peace. It needs to be somewhere outside as fresh air is important to my well-being.  I also find the sound of bird-song soothing so that would need to be factored in and with my love of all things planty there needs to be a good supply of lovely plants.  There are many gardens that I have had the privilege to visit that I have found calming but there is one place that is near enough for me to visit fairly easily and just the drive has the habit of soothing me.  Sadly Stockton Bury is now closed for the autumn/winter period. I know because I checked its opening dates at the weekend;  I obviously sensed that evil black dog nipping at my heels.

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So I will have to make do with looking back on photographs from July when it was at its floriferous best.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

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This week’s photo challenge has definitely been a challenge as I haven’t been able to conveniently find a photo in my archive to meet the challenge.

The idea behind the challenge is the Rule of Thirds which means that you put the subject of your photo in one-third of the frame.  It is then suggested that you go a step further and try to achieve bokeh.  Bokeh is the blurred area around your subject in the photograph, if you follow the link you can see some examples which demonstrate what they mean.

I don’t think I have quite met the challenge as well as I would have liked. I tried several times to blur out the background but it is beyond me and probably means I need to fiddle with my camera controls which just makes my head hurt a bit like fractions when I was at school.  As soon as someone starts to explain apertures and shutters speeds to me it is like tumble weed is rolling past.

For better examples of this challenge follow this link.

For my gardening mad readers the iris is Iris Cantab

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

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I have struggled with this week’s photo challenge theme: depth.   So I have decided to choose some images that show a depth of field, the depth of the garden so to speak.

This photos were taken at Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire in 2012.  A garden I must visit again as I have found looking back through the photographs I took there inspiring at a time when I feel a little confused about the garden.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

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This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is ‘Express Yourself’ – which is a very wide open topic.

I think I express myself best in writing, hence the blog, but that doesn’t really work for a photograph challenge.  I hate having my photograph taken, loath it in fact, you won’t find many photographs of me.  My mother despairs and frequently complains that she doesn’t have any up to date photographs of me and my sons.  She also complains when she sees our holiday photos that there aren’t many of us, they are mainly of views etc.  Last year the three of us were in Lake Maggiore and I decided that before we came home we had to do a group selfie, just to humour Mum.  Finally, on the last day, when we visited a garden I had been waiting all week to visit, I managed to persuade the boys to go along with me.  I, and my mother thankfully, love the result as it is such a good representation of my small family.  My youngest the extrovert in the middle deciding that he might as well go for it big time, my eldest slightly more restrained but playing along and me, taking a big breath and really gurning into the screen.  I also like the fact that it demonstrates how tall my lads are with the eldest a good foot taller than me.

So here we are expressing ourselves!