High tides and roe deer

When you live near the sea and there is a high tide, it’s only natural to head to the coast and take a look. Where we live in Clevedon we are less than five minutes stroll from the sea-front, and although (or should that be ‘because’?) the coast is the Bristol Channel rather than the open ocean it feels very special.

1-img_0306There are so many strong currents in the channel that when you add a stiff breeze and the bouncing of waves off the sea-wall and rocks, you get very intricate movement. Waves travel from different directions to crash into each other, creating ridges, depressions and foams that are overall are quite mesmerising. I know the water is always brown, because of the amount of silt it contains, but I think this adds a textural quality to the water.

The sky was beautiful too: but then it usually is here!

1-img_0304This photo show just how high the water was, and the pier almost looks as though it is floating. This would have been a good time to get into the porthole room underneath the pier, but sadly we were out and about before opening time.

Walking home past Clevedon Hall, something in the trees caught my eye.

1-img_0327-001It’s not the best photo, but who would expect such a view of a roe deer near a busy road at 8:45 am. I snapped fast! Maybe I could have taken my time, as he watched me all the way down the road without moving from the spot.

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When you like nature, photography and writing, days like to day are gifts!

Strange day: calm beside the storm?

I’m just back from a breath of fresh air down by Clevedon Marine Lakes, and as always I took a few photos along the way.

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It’s a strange day out there today: quite grey as you can see, but brighter than you might expect. Cool but not cold, calm but a little breezy. Almost raining, but not quite! The latest seasonal storm  hit the North of the country yesterday, so maybe this is the calm behind or beside the storm.

The Marine Lakes are looking good now all the renovation work has finished, and it’s easy to see how well used they will be in the summer if we get some nice weather. Much more inviting to get in the water, with lots of ramps and steps, wider paths beside the lake and a wider walk walk between the two lakes. The blue thing you can see in the photo is the platfom for swimmers to climb onto in the middle of the water. There’s also a wide area at the far end for families with little children. All very nice indeed!

The soft light somehow picked out some of the old metal-work set into the stone wall: a drainage pipe capping contraption and metal rings which must have beem used for life rings, or maybe boats, although they seem very high up and far away from the water level.

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These are all features I haven’t noticed before… and the lovely colour to the rusted iron, the rust stain on the stone, the stone and lichen all provide nice contrasts and textures for some photography.

Many people still think that you need sunshine for good photos. Grey days can give great results – for the right subjects – so keep snapping through the winter!

 

 

I love walking in the rain… (well, I do!)

Quite often bad weather is a reason to stay inside if you can and keep warm and dry, but as I’ve often blogged about the pleasures of walking, and my intention to get out and about with my camera in all weathers, I decided not to let storm Clodagh keep me indoors today, and I headed out before breakfast for a walk.

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Not only is the walk more exhilarating and fun – there is something about the wind that works on almost everyone – but it feels as though it is doing you good. So a good brisk walk in the wind, with Poet’s walk to myself as most other walkers were giving it a miss.

Clevedon looked a little wild today. We never get storms like you do in Cornwall as we are in a relatively sheltered location, but it was still rough and choppy and the pier looked as though it was sitting low in the water.

I love the reflections in the puddles too. I know – little things please little minds but I do like this photograph of a tree.

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More ways to find fun and fitness with walking are in my kindle book!

We’re buying shares – in Clevedon Pier

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Aah yes. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is and chip in to help the pier.

You can’t come to Clevedon without noticing the pier. There are plenty of other quiet delights in the town, but the pier will be the thing you notice first. It has a long history from its opening in 1869, collapse in 1970 and restoration and reopening in 1989 and work is underway on a fabulous new visitor centre, cafe and viewing gallery. My husband Alec and I have bought season tickets to the pier every year since we moved to Clevedon: that way we are showing our support while benefiting ourselves from being able to take a walk down the pier whenever we want (during opening hours of course). When the community share scheme was announced, we decided that we would have to be part of it and today we have put the cheque in the post.

Have a look online, and if you can afford some shares too – why not? The minimum spend isn’t huge (150 x £1 shares ) and you have bought your little slice of history. Read more here!

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Here’s the view of work today. Amazingly small space to work in, but the lower level viewing gallery now has a concrete roof above it – the floor for the cafe. Which we’ve heard in the news will be run by the people in charge of Tiffins – one of our lovely local cafes.

And a fairly recent plaque added at the end of the pier. (Apologies if it’s been there for years and I’ve only just noticed!!)

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It all adds to the interest. I’ve seen most of these ships myself, so it’s nice to know now what they are.

If you haven’t visited Clevedon before, or haven’t been for a while, there is lots to see. Work on the Marine Lakes approaching completion, the new Loungers cafe open at the historic Curzon cinema, the Theatre Orchard bringing live performance to Clevedon, several other new cafes and businesses and news that the traditional Christmas fair will return to Hill Road. It’s all happening in Clevedon!

Autumn in Clevedon

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It’s a strange season, Autumn. For those who particularly love the sun it is of course the beginning of the bad times – darker evenings, cold and damp weather. For those who relish a British Christmas, it’s the sign that frosty walks, welcoming pubs with roaring log fires, fairy lights and Christmas trees are all on the way.

But I like walking, wildlife and photography, and I just love the autumn! The light and colours in the landscape are beautiful, even early in the season before the trees properly turn to full gold and orange. An added bonus is that you don’t have to get up at 3 in the morning to catch an atmospheric morning shot. Here’s one of my photographs from Poet’s Walk in Clevedon on a morning when the mist was lying beneath the hills, and layers of cloud were adding colour to the sky. The sun was just getting some strength, so the grasses on the edge of the hill got some golden highlights too. Just lovely!

In towns you can take advantage of some dramatic scenes too. I liked the church and tree photographed without filters: I emphasised the bleached colours with a posterising effect.

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Some of my favourite photos, drawings and paintings are on sale in my RedBubble shop. There are some nice gift ideas!!

This year I’m planning on gettting out and about in all weathers to capture how the scenery changes through the year. There is talk of a cold winter coming for the UK. While I’m not a great fan of ice and snow, I will be on the look out for some great snowy shots: could be material for my next calendar.

And I suppose that’s the key thing about the changing seasons… to make the most of them where ever you live.

Ten weeks in Australia – who’s a lucky girl then?

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Yes, it’s not many people who are lucky enough to be able to take a ten week trip. And I’m also blessed by having a lovely circle of very hospitable family and friends in Australia, courtesy of my husband, who lived, worked and raised his family there. I managed to keep working just enough while I was away – I’m lucky again to work from home using the internet – but it’s hard to work as much as you want while not wanting to miss out on time with family and friends.

In a nutshell, it started with a beautiful family wedding in Thailand; moved on to a couple of days in Brisbane Central Business District and then to two weeks staying with daughter, son-in-law and three grand daughters in Fernvale, Queensland; incorporating a few days with friends in Brisbane and a trip up to the Sunshine coast hinterland and Maleny; then to friends in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria; a few days with friends in Sydney and then near Tumbulgum with views across country to Mount Warning; more days in Brisbane and a family holiday on the coast at Noosa.

You do much more in ten days than you can possibly tell people about, but these are my –

Highlights:

  • Obviously getting to know the grand-children, and spending time with them in their normal lives. Skype is great, but time together is greater!
  • Wandering round Brisbane, visiting the Roma Street Parkland, and the Botanical Gardens; mooching along beside the river, shopping, eating…
  • Seeing bits of Australia we haven’t seen before – the beautiful hinterland of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine coast and inland from Melbourne. Mount Tambourine, the Glass House Mountains and the Dandenong range. Visiting the site of the Australian gold rush in Ballarat.
  • Enjoying the wildlife – the parrots and cockatoos seen daily; waking up to the unmistakable sound of kookaburras and Australian magpies; seeing wild hawks, eagles, wallabies and kangaroos.
  • Eating the food – lovely meals in so many places. Big shout out for the Three Little Pigs Bar and Bistro near Mount Tambourine though! Lovely wine and beer tastings – please take a bow Hargreaves Hill, Yarra Glen . Such nice fresh produce available in markets. Imaginative salads and delicious healthy food available almost everywhere.
  • Feeling like a resident in different iconic places – hopping on and off ferries in Sydney, and having the privilege of staying in ‘proper’ Australian homes. Fabulous!

Downsides:

  • Packing for a beach-side wedding, cold nights in a Queensland winter, and the decidedly cool, damp weather in Victoria in August. Next time, we won’t be going for a wedding, and will aim for the Australian Spring or Autumn, when temperatures are reliable ‘nice’. No jumpers or coats needed!
  • The cost of flying. Of course, it’s very expensive to fly around the world – so it should be. The domestic flights were expensive too, so next time we’ll be checking out the cheapest time to fly, and not flying once we are there. Our budget only stretches so far, even when we don’t need to book hotels around the place. Of course, for those without family in Oz there is always the option of a house swap. And you can get great deals on camper vans if you can be flexible. Relocating a van between Brisbane and Sydney, say, for $5AUS a day. Can’t be bad. It just needs flexibility and some thought.
  • The journey. The first time I flew to and back from Australia we flew mostly at night, and broke the journey with a 24 hour stop over in Singapore. This time, the stop in Thailand made the journey quite easy, but the return trip was horrible. We flew Malaysia Airlines and had booked out of Brisbane. They cancelled flights from Brisbane the day before we flew – so we had to fly to Sydney first. Of course, this didn’t cost us extra, but it added 6 hours to the journey. We then had a 5 hour stop-over in Kuala Lumpur – not my favourite airport – and the flight out from there to Heathrow was delayed. Of course, it was busy coming into Heathrow, so we had to circle London. When we landed Heathrow was very busy and it took ages to get our bags and get out. So – almost 36 hours in transit, and very little sleep. Not great, by any means!

In some ways ten weeks was perfect, as we really got into the life there. In some ways it was too long, and ‘real’ life was on hold for a large part of the year. I’ve also found that since we got back our calendar is getting complicated, and there are some people it looks as though we won’t see at all this year.

Even though it was winter in Australia, around Brisbane the weather was lovely during the day: just cold at night. Could be a great time of the year to visit further North in Queensland. As you can see from my photo, the water at Noosa was very inviting!

So the planning for the next trip starts here! Will we go round the world and meet friends and family in Florida and/or New Zealand? How long for? House swap? House sitters?

One thing is for sure, the more we think about the options, the more likely we are to arrange something that works!

What a morning! What a walk!

A perfect late September morning in England is a thing of absolute beauty, and that’s what we had today in Clevedon. I went for a walk before breakfast, and went further than I expected to, as it was too difficult to stop!

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First photo shows the view across the little park in Jesmond Road… Most views of the coast show the headlands further down the North Somerset coast, and you can often see the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm, as well as the distant North Devon coast. And of course Wales across the Bristol channel. The view is the reward for a fairly steep climb up the hill!

Then I carried on to Hill Road, and walked up the Zig-Zag to see the various views accessible from there. You get Zig-Zag paths in many hilly towns, but ours in Clevedon is quite well hidden, as the entries from Hill Road aren’t sign-posted. So here are the views:

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Looking down the coast…

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… and looking across the town towards the distant hills. At least some of the hills shown are the Mendips.

Then I walked down Kings Road and Cambridge Road, past The Avenue….

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… onto Wellington Terrace back towards…

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… the sea front and …

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… The Pier.

I was planning to walk home from the sea front, but the day was so pretty I finished off by walking around Poet’s Walk. No ravens or peregrine falcons today, but plenty of other birds, including a heron looking hopefully at the puddles in the Marine Lake.

Here’s the view as you reach the brow of the hill…

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Gorgeous!

I’ve tried to work out the distance and I think it’s about 3.5 miles. The route includes some fairly steep hills, so it was quite good exercise. But more importantly it was a total pleasure – just as good exercise should be!

[Have you read my book yet? A beginners guide to walking for pleasure, available on Kindle!]