a little snap happy

It’s only been a week and I might have a few more images than that.  Blame spring, or Easter, or the chocolate.  I’ve even got my lovely X-Pro1 camera out again with the 60mm  macro lens on – it was great for shooting in the bluebell woods and it made me realise that I’ve missed playing with my camera.  Hopefully I’ll take it out more again (it’s a good start that I’ve dug it out from under the bed).

As always, there’s a bit of a nature theme – a couple of bluebells, some blossom and two that I have no idea what they are but I just liked the look of.

Next up, and deserving on a photograph on its’ own solely as I’ve nothing similar is a shot of Bath weir.

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Then onto a few shots of my favourite muse.  I didn’t honestly plan for him to have a yellow fleece and wellies but it just sort of happened.  At least he’s easy to spot in them 🙂 This is a mix of iphone and camera.

Finally two images that I’m actually pretty proud of – DH with his youngest two sons (purely unintentional that mostly they are in black / red (with the wee one in obligatory yellow) and the dog while out at Micheldever woods . You might think I’d composed it with them all in a vertical line but actually, they worked that out themselves and all I had to do was try to get them in focus.

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Finally, from the same woods, I just love the light coming through the aperture above onto the wee one’s face as he’s playing in the tree house.  Definitely my shot of the week.

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Hope everyone has had a lovely Easter.

not a cake

When is a cake not a cake?  an interesting question I’ve been exploring over the last 20+ days of lent.

Chocolate is easy – something either contains chocolate or not and I’ve successfully managed to avoid chocolate with the exception of a couple of mouthfuls of chocolate brownie to celebrate the dog’s 6th birthday.   It was only a couple of mouthfuls as it was pretty awful brownie from a pub and I really didn’t want more.

Cake however is more challenging.  One friend kindly agreed that hot cross buns are not cake and then brought me some last week.  Definitely good.  Croissant, eaten instead of cake is not cake either.  Flapjack is getting a bit closer and anything called cake is a definite no.

Biscuits however – they’re not chocolate or cake.  That said, eating half a pack of custard creams sort of defeats the purpose of having less cake and chocolate.  So does drinking half a bottle of red wine in an evening as well.

Overall it’s going ok.  No weight gained and even a little lost.   I do need (like) a little something sweet mid afternoon but can normally restrain myself to a digestive (or two).  Is it breaking my sweet tooth habit – time will tell but definitely in a better position than before Lent with my 3 sweet things a day.

Anyway, on with the photographs.  20 days to get through and rather than a day by day blow, they’re grouped and we’re starting with coffee.  An espresso from home with a fairly good crema, a coffee from when out and about and a lovely mug that I was gifted by a friend.  It’s great – insulated and keeps my rooibos perfectly warm.

I’m following this with springtime as although today is wet and not that nice it is the official start of spring today and all that.  We’ve a collection of a sedum, laburnum, daffodil, magnolia, more daffs, the local dog walk and a swan.  Most were actually taken on rainy days (with the clear sky being the obvious exception)

 

Moving on, a collection of photographs loosely related to work, my first working lunch in the sun, a sketch from a launch with the NHS (not by me), pudding from a work event which looked nicer than it tasted and a snapshot taken from Waterloo bridge in London when walking between meetings.

A complete about turn and now a few family related images – a very small selection of photographs from home over the past month.

Last but not least – jumper progress – I’ve finished the body and am now working on the sleeves before joining them and moving onto the yoke.

Feeling quite proud about the jumper actually and in the last 20 days I’ve received the paper copy of the book it’s taken from – Inspired by Islay by Kate Davies – just a stunning book and the essays are great as well.  Anyway, onwards into spring time we go and I’m going to try and not develop a biscuit habit.

 

and that was February ….

Where has the month gone?  I can’t believe it’s March tomorrow.  More importantly it’s pancake day today – what do you have on yours?   We had blueberry pancakes (the thick scottish type – also known as drop scones) for breakfast and they were just yum.  They were eaten too quickly for me to take any photographs.

Anyway – it’s nearly the start of lent.  I don’t normally bother much with it but this year I need to try and cut down on my sugar addiction habit to proactively help prevent an expanding waist line.  I don’t really need chocolate and biscuits and cake every day, especially with the wee one being fully weaned.  So … for lent 2017 I will be aiming to abstain from chocolate and cake.  I will however work my way steadily through the hot cross buns in the kitchen cupboard in the interest of them not being wasted.  I’ve decided they’re a bread instead.

I also like the idea that instead of (or in my case as well as) giving something up, you can do something good.  Have a look at  or  for ideas.  I think I’m going to support the Trussell Trust with their 40p for 40 days campaign and then duplicate it for my local Nightshelter.  If you are donating – remember to giftaid!

Anyway – onto photographs.  I’ve had a bit of a floral and scenery thing going on.  Primroses, snowdrops, daffodils and two randoms that I’ve completely forgotten the name of.  I love this time of year onwards as things begin to bloom.  The crocuses are just about to appear and then it’s tulips and blossom and spring!

 

I was off work for two weeks for one reason or another so the bottom two in the set above are from when I was away and had a lovely walk round a reservoir near Edinburgh.  The advantage of being away meant very few images like the one below.

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Instead – when not looking for flowers or scenery it was the local wildlife (and their wooden counterparts).

Or images of new shoes and Sunday morning stories while daddy is still asleep.

 

I didn’t quite manage a photograph a day – 19 days, 14 images or thereabouts.  There’s a couple I just want to check about before posting here as they’ve got friend and family children in them so I may update the post later.    I wonder what march will bring?  More frost as on the car this morning (it was stunning)?

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Colourwork

I’ve just sat and reviewed my images from the past week and deleted 90% of them.   I’d just been using my phone and the focus wasn’t right or the composition was beyond recovery or the lighting was that bad touching up just wouldn’t cut it.  As such, I’ve three images to show you from the past 7 days.

First up – a work event.   Not very inspiring in terms of image but in terms of who was brought together in this event, just fabulous.

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Next up – an combination of old and new – hand operated sewing machine (seriously – how cool!), being operated by a 15 month old.  He loved it.  It now has pride of place in my office.

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Last but not least – I just loved the colours on the church brickwork and the wood.  I’ve walked past here many many times but yesterday, the lighting and the colours just caught my eye.2017_feb-2

 

Speaking of colour …. I’ve been mostly knitting colour work this year in various different forms.   The colour itself is cheering considering the time of year and I’m finding that I like having more colour in my life in terms of clothing or accessories or whatever.   Black and dark blue and very bland and dull and suck the light and energy out of me (although you’ll never see me wearing jeans any other colour).  I’ve not quite worked out why I want to blog about this but apparently I do so read on if you want and stop if you’d rather not read about knitting.  It does also take me up to the 7 images for this week …. the four images below all of (current) projects, all using colour work.  Three are actually WIP’s so please excuse uneven stitches and wrinkles etc.

The first is a poncho type thing – it’s called Haven by a designer Holly Yeoh.  I just saw it and thought “oh – I want to make that”.  The bit in the picture was lovely – the rest is one colour just knitting back and forward in reverse stockinette and is a little bit boring.  As a result, it’s been on the needles since before the wee one was born – it was originally planned to be a useful breastfeeding cover-up.  Now – it will just be a nice poncho when it’s finally done and I’ve still got a long way to go.  The colour work is quite clever – you knit this with fingering yarn doubled so the plain colours are holding two strands of the one colour and the mottled bits are holding two different colours together.  About the simplest way I’ve come across to do colour work without thinking about it.

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Next up is some squishy brioche which may make it into a cowl one day.  I started this back in October using the other half skeins from above (the yarn is Suilven by Ripples Crafts and the most lovely soft merino, yak and silk mix – mmmmmmm).   This is a bit of a hack of patterns combined but it shows single colour brioche through to two colour and then a bit of a play with patterning.  I’m not giving the pattern names as I also can’t follow them and there are so many mistakes I’m not fancying linking to how it should look like.  Anyway, it turns out that brioche is nice but travel knitting a pattern in brioche is a bit beyond me so it’s stalled as I need to do the next bit at home.  What I really like, (apart from the lime and purple together) is how you have both colours so visible.  You could really have fun playing with colour here.

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Last but not least I have two images of “fair isle” – traditional stranded colour work which I love doing – I don’t know why but I just find this very very satisfying.  I’ve knit colour work like this in bits and bobs before for a motif or a yoke but never a whole hat (it’s Saudade by Ysolda using Little Grey Sheep – I took a photograph of the cakes during January when I started).  I think I might have said in a previous post that I wanted to learn two handed colour work so I can knit an allover fair isle jumper by Kate Davies – there are lots of different ways to do this but for me to do that, and get sensible tension, I needed to learn continental knitting (holding yarn in LH), then two handed colour work and then onto the jumper.   I’ve been knitting the miles of stockinette in Haven very slowly continental since Christmas.   I finally felt confident enough to try it in a hat – below and the swatch (to check sizing) of what the jumper will look like.   2017_feb-4

If anyone wants to know the advantage of blocking – look at the difference between above and below in stitch definition.   I just need to finish sewing in a gazzillion ends and then I can do the same to the hat and it will be oh so lovely crisp and clear.  I might even then be able to take an image fully in focus.

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I’m really enjoying colourwork as a way to have interest in a pattern – I know there are different stitches and things you can do as well but for me right now, this just suits where I am.

The last third of January

30 days and we’re up to 30 pictures.   Last week actually was a little bit of a nightmare in terms of managing the work / life balance so there were a couple of days that I missed but I’ve just chosen other extra pictures that I’ve taken on better days.

Where to start …. well around the 20th/21st (was it really only 9 days ago) I seem to recall a few just lovely days and the photographs reflect that.  The first image I took my lovely camera with me, got everything set up and then realised that the card was still in my laptop.  Idiot mistake but with a backup iPhone the situation was recovered.  The duck was very friendly, until it realised I had no food.

Sunday 22nd was actually a pretty spectacular day as well which prompted a rare “selfie” as I really don’t like having my photograph taken.   Actually, the selfie didn’t work and the photograph was taken by my obliging husband.

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After the Monday though, that’s when it got a bit mental.  Tuesday was a bit of a sobering day.  Quite happily working away on the train on the way into London when on go the emergency brakes, the announcement “can the guard please contact the driver”, and then a few minutes later “we’ve been involved in an incident”.  I know that SW trains come under a lot of grief but on that day, they did a very good job in a very difficult situation.  It did take 4 hours to complete my normally 1 hour journey but they did their best to keep us informed and we were warm, dry and safe inside the carriages while they had a much more gruesome task to resolve.  It did however mean I had a bit of a rush, didn’t get my lovely walk over Westminster bridge so the only photograph I took was of the platform in the dark as I got home.

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Wednesday wasn’t much better with every meeting running into one another so I’ve a “make-up” picture for that day.  Thursday was much of the same but I was working from home rather than in London and getting time to walk the dog was a challenge, let alone remembering to stop and take a photograph.  Actually – it’s these sorts of days where taking two minutes out to stop and appreciate one little thing by photographing it can make a world of difference to how you’re feeling.  Need to get better at that.

The “make-up” pictures are from being out and about – I didn’t quite manage to capture the sun on the walk up to the cathedral quite so well by camera but it was quite something.  The dog was just happy to pose for a biscuit!

Anyway, Friday is the second of three pictures of my son in this block.  He is fascinated by the window … it’s just at the right height for him.  He’s normally so energetic and so busy it was lovely to see him still and almost contemplative for a few minutes.

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On to Saturday and on this occasion I did remember to stop, find a moment and photograph it.  A cup of coffee (with pretty impressive latte art) may not seem like much but with a wee one, a chaotic household and just life – 20 minutes to sit and drink a latte (and knit) in peace is absolute bliss.   I wish I could do latte art – it’s so pretty.

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Sunday was a bit less nice and instead of a photograph of being rained on, I went for indoor play and some cheerful bright colours.

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Last but not least, some knitting.  This is actually a test – trying to work out the size of my stitches so I can make a jumper.  However – being typically me, I’m not doing this the easy way – a jumper with this pattern all over is quite a lot and to make it manageable, it’s much better (in my opinion anyway) to be able to have one colour in one hand and the second colour in the second hand.  The only problem being I had no idea how to do that.  January’s project has been learning how to knit with the yarn in my left hand (continental style) which has gone quite well (my green hat above was done like that) and this was a very very first trial of using two hands – I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.  Gauge is way off but I’ve a bit more practicing with a couple of other things first before the jumper gets started.

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One more day and then it’s February – exciting!

 

 

A jumble of days

Here we are on a 2nd post for 2017 and it’s only 11 days in.  My goodness.

January 3rd to 11th has been a bit of a mix.  3 days in London, a weekend baking and some random bits’n’bobs.  Lets start with the randoms.  January 3rd was a trip into town and a quick shot of a nice bridge.  It was sunny but with it being winter and all I completely got the timing wrong and arrived far too late for there to be anything but shadows on the bridge.   The fourth was a walk slightly further up the river and a young swan trying to remove the grey.  Then we have wellies from January 6th (they’d just been used and I love the difference in sizes between us all) and finally some lovely chunky Rusty Ferret B.A.M.F yarn I was given as a christmas present which was about to become a hat (more on that in the next post).  I didn’t get the white balance at all right for that shot – it’s not green, it’s more blue.

Next up we have London and a fabulous day on Jan 5th so I just had to stop and rub shoulders with the tourists when walking over Westminster Bridge.  Somewhat depressingly, I didn’t realise at the time that I had some camera shake / focus issues so it’s not as sharp as it should be.  I’ll just need to try again on another lovely winters day.

It wasn’t quite so nice on the 10th when I was walking past Westminster and yesterday (11th) the photo options at Elephant and Castle eluded me so I caught the Old Vic on the way back to Waterloo.

Finally, we have cake from the weekend.  A cake of the world no less. Well, actually it was a cake of  a bit less than half the world.  I might write about this separately actually as it was a pretty impressive feat for a 14 year old.  The images are from (failed) attempt number 1 and the carnage from decoration.2017_jan-72017_jan-8

Hope you’re all having a good week and enjoying the snow which is apparently due to arrive.

2016 Photo a Day Week 3

I know I mentioned this last post but just to make people jealous … I’m on holiday.  It’s not a bleak dreary January for me with the merriment of the festive season a fading memory, replaced by short days, rain, cold weather and long office hours.  Oh no.  I’m on holiday for two whole weeks.

I’m on maternity leave too so please don’t point out I’m in the middle of a 9 month holiday, this is different.  My lovely husband is with me and we’re away in Scotland in one of my favourite places in the whole world having some down time and it’s wonderful.

We arrived slightly late on Monday night and the sun had set but the stars were not out yet so the week starts with an image of some cheerful lights in the hutte.  (It’s a chalet but we call it the hutte in memory of going to the mountains to stay in a hutte in Austria – just go with it). It was fun playing with changing the focus to have bright spots of light in the image through to having the lights in focus as in the image above.

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The following morning was cold and frosty and the spiders webs were quite something to behold.  This was taken from the door of the hutte just before sunrise with a very flat light.  Once the sun came up – it all melted (well, the frost on the spiders web did, the snow hung around for a little longer).

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Wednesday was a magical cold, clear(ish) day so a trek out to Ryvoan bothy for lunch was on the cards.  Bothy’s are fairly rustic shelters dotted about the countryside (there are about 100 in Scotland), there to shelter a traveller and great for staying over at without needing to lug a tent.  This one is easy to access from the Cairngorms so perfect for a sheltered lunch spot.

2016 Day-20Importantly for me, this is a huge leap forward.  A year or even when up here 6 months ago I would not have even considered walking out to here and while tired upon returning to the car, this was definitely a very manageable (flat) walk.  The grin on my face while out was huge.

Unfortunately the wonderful snow has not hung around and following a pretty spectacular sunrise the following morning, it warmed up and there’s none left down here.   There’s still plenty on Cairngorm (just visible in the distance on the left hand side of the image below) and on the other tops but we’re back to mud now.

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Friday was another walk, this time round a stunning loch on the Rothiemurchus estate, Loch an Eilean.  There are lots of images on the web of the castle on a rock in the water looking over towards Cairngorm in the distance and I did my best to replicate them but I liked the image below of the late afternoon sun instead this time.

2016 Day-22

The image for Saturday is from Roseisle beach on the Moray Firth.  It’s mile after mile of golden sand, shallow seas (which are warm enough for swimming in, in the summer, even though it’s the North Sea in Scotland) and on this particular day … stunning sunshine.  Just fabulous.

2016 Day-23

Finally for the week, something a bit different.  This weekend saw the 33rd annual Sled Dog Rally in Aviemore.  Trying to photograph moving dogs with a moving wheeled sled behind them, with reasonable depth of field so everything was in focus proved challenging (and beyond me) so here’s a shot of just the dogs instead.

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Weeks like this are a joy for photography … you don’t have to think about what to capture, just taking the camera with you works well.  Lots of fun.

Happy 2016

7:30am on January 1st 2016 and I’m the only one awake in the house.  The  baby has fed and dozed off again and even the dog is asleep. What else do you do but pick up (the metaphorical) pen and paper and start to write?  Knit you say?  Well I’ll be doing that after this and disturbing the dog to take her round the block.

Firstly wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2016 and beyond.  In the immortal words of John Lennon (albeit about Christmas), “let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”.

On with the show….

2016 has been a pretty life changing year in some fantastic ways.  We’ve had an addition to the family in the form of the wee one.  He’s not really so wee but he’s absolutely amazing.  I never realised you could have such strength of emotion for someone quite so small.  Here he is with his big brothers yesterday.

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Health wise, I started the year able to walk about 500 steps a day and not even walk the dog round the block.  I was working very part time, had to give up my allotment and found bits of the year really quite tough as ME/CFS can be pretty isolating.   I didn’t write about it much – I had energy for one thing and chose for that to try and be a positive blog a week of photographs rather than a “woe is me, I’m doing very little” type blog.  Fast forward to December where I had weeks where I averaged 10,000 steps.  Yes that’s a heck of an improvement and mostly I have the wee one to thank for this (with a smattering of good luck and some judicious pacing).  I’m one of the lucky one’s and from my limited understanding, the parasitic nature of growing a child inside you led to a suppressed immune system for 9 months.  There’s not much research but it seems to be that there’s about a 1/3 split each way for those with ME – it does nothing, you get worse or you improve.  There’s a possibility it’s helped reset my system … I live in hope as 10 weeks on, we’re still going strong.

I may update the subject of the blog – I have every intention of continuing with a photograph a day.  I definitely will be continuing to knit, plan to expand my sewing beyond a quilt, changing bag and mat to the occasional garment but the allotment is no more.  That said, we did grow a good selection of food in the garden so there may be wittering on that in 2016 and I plan to start experimenting more with cooking too.

Anyway – back to the photography.  We went out for a walk to Lepe beach yesterday.  It’s a pretty cool place with the remains of WW2 features from where they were building barrage boats for the D-Day landings.  I even got everyone to pose for a shot near a mooring point (The wee one was in a sling on me at this point. He was fast asleep and there was no way I was disturbing him to pose for a photo).

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There were also some spectacular cloud effects thanks to the sun, wind and rain.  I have my DH to credit for spotting this – his iPhone image is broadly comparable to mine below (taken on the X-Pro1)

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I’d also like to take this opportunity to re-post a couple (12) of my favourite images of the year.  I spent so long photographing flowers but my favourites are scenery and random objects!

Have a wonderful 2016 🙂

Photo a day 2015 Sets 43-49

Life just sometimes gets in the way of things … Monday December 7th and this is the first time I have turned on a computer since October 21st.  I think that might be the longest I’ve not been on an actual computer since … erm …. the early 1990’s.  I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not.

What caused this …. I’d like to introduce you to the wee one.  He’s currently 6 and a half weeks old and complaining that I’ve put him down … more later.

wee man

(this pic is from when he was just over 4 weeks – I think he’s fabby but I might be just a little biased)

Two days later … now it’s possibly clearer why I’ve not been posting the weekly collection of images.  In general I have been keeping up with them but more on the phone than the camera (it’s a bit heavy to lug about with the wee one and all the associated paraphernalia unless I have the pram with me) and I don’t have a good / reliable way of transferring images from phone to Lightroom yet either (if anyone has any recommendations, they’d be appreciated).

Anyway – rather than inundating with many posts of random (and frankly not my best) images to catch up with 49 days or so, here’s a potted selection of 7 of my favourites acquired using my X-Pro1. (Note they are unedited and some would benefit from some processing)

I was very kindly given many flowers to celebrate the birth of the wee one – as I couldn’t really get out of the house I spent a few days photographing them all.  I don’t actually like lily’s but loved the light on this one.  I do however like protea so there’s one of them too!

lily

Protea

Next up it’s the dog from an early excursion out of the house …

the dug

Swiftly followed by two visits to the local Cathedral during the day (with the late afternoon sun on the main entrance) and one taken at night – no tripod (unfortunately) but a handy gatepost to balance the camera on.  I like the long exposure and the ghosts of people walking by.

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and finally we have sunset over the Pentlands and sunrise in Pitlochry from the wee one’s first trip to my “home” (it doesn’t matter that I’ve lived down south for over 10 years, Scotland will always be home!).

Sunset

Sunrise

With the arrival of the wee one, I’ve been taking a lot more portraits of him with all the family – hopefully it will help me gain confidence in that aspect of photography.

With what seems like the endless rain and greyness, I’ve also learnt a lot about acquiring images in low light conditions – being honest – I don’t enjoy it so much and the images are not as good and there are far too many that have camera shake or poor focus.  This winter I may learn to use the flash as a result.

Hoping to start keeping a bit more up to date now …. we’ll see.