Shiny new things

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Thought I’d very quickly let you know that RedBubble are offering 15% off everything for the next couple of days. I’ve added a few new images to my shop in the last week or so – such as the psychadelic number above – so this could be a very good time to shop for gifts or beautiful things for yourself.

The range includes cards, prints and posters – in a wide variety of formats – as well as cases for smart phones and tablets, cushions/cushion covers, tote bags, calendars, and some t-shirts.

My art work varies from very abstract and decorative through to natural, classic photographs, so there should be something for almost everyone. Anyway, please come and have a look at MagsArt on RedBubble, especially while you can pick up a bargain!

Bertha in Clevedon

bertha canoe

So the tail end of ex-hurricane Bertha hurried it’s way through the UK today, and popped into to see us in Clevedon. Lots of rain last night, and bands of rain and sun throughout the day. A bit of thunder and lightning too, but great to get out for an exhilarating walk. 

Hats off to the intrepid canoeist who was battling the strong and gusty wind. In the photo they actually have the wind behind them, and it was tough enough. When they turned into the wind, they really had to dig deep! And although the composition isn’t classic, I think it’s nice to catch a photo with three points of interest – the canoeist, the pier and the large ship in the channel heading towards Avonmouth.

There were lots of people enjoying the sea front today, including photographers trying to catch a dramatic picture.

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The walk certainly blew the cobwebs away, and saved me from going stir crazy. Burned off a few calories too!

 

What makes your day?

Isn’t life sweet when you’re a simple soul? These are some of the little things that have really pleased me in the last few days.

1. Torrential rain.

Rain

Photographed from our window, it’s a sensory experience: the sound, the way the temperature drops and the change it the light. I love walking in a downpour too, but only if I’m on my way home to a shower and dry clothes!

2. Practically perfect pizza.

pizza

Here it is, almost ready. Just a bit more browning on top and crisping up underneath. Especially pleasing as I made the dough by hand, and it was my most successful yet. Light and fluffy inside, crispy on the crust. Maybe a touch more salt for perfection. The garlic butter and parmesan rolls I made with the left over dough were fab too.

3. Bees!

lavender bees

Just love them! So single minded, and they never bother you if you don’t bother them. I was pleased with the photo too, as a quick snap, and just a bit blurry as they can’t be persuaded to sit still and pose.

4. A perfect English summer day.

myddleton house

We were at Myddleton House in Enfield (North London). A great place for people who like plants, kitchen gardens, old walls and stone work and lovely sunny days. I could have pointed the camera almost anywhere and liked the results. And …

5 Grass snakes

grass snake

This one was hunting at Myddleton House. We’d just walked past a pond, and I’d said the conditions were great for snake spotting – and there he (she) was! Head down a hole, and plainly engaged in swallowing something. After several minutes he (she) popped his (her) head out, with just the back legs of a frog still moving a little and sticking out between his (her) jaws. But the speed as he (she, but I’m getting bored with this now!) shot away through the plants and into a hollow log had to be seen to be believed. Poor frog, but what a treat to see. We felt just a little bit like David Attenborough as we snapped away.

What’s your top five from the last three or four days?

Gorge-ous walks and photo opportunities

Always nice to get out and about and see something new. Although we have lived in North Somerset for two years now, there are many places that many people will know very well that we are just discovering.

This weekend we went with our lovely family visitors up the Mendips, to Burrington Combe, where we enjoyed a short walk beside the gorge. Much less famous than the nearby Cheddar Gorge, there is a pub and a cycling centre at the bottom of the combe, but then just nature and local people living their normal lives. We parked in a small layby with several others cars and then headed off up the hill.

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Before we knew it we were beside the edge of the gorge with the rocky ribs showing through the thin vegetation clinging to the steep sides. We’d seen the small herds of goats from the car, but didn’t manage to spot any here: they are too canny and too agile to be approached too closely.

I photographed a carline thistle, which looked spikilly regal against the turf. Not a plant I have ever really noticed before, but one that I am glad to have seen.

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Fantastic views of further afield from the hill top, too. I can almost claim that I can see my house from here, as the view extends to Wales in the far distance, with the Bristol Channel and Clevedon and then the flat country which spreads out in front of the Mendips.

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We went on the the lakes at Chew Stoke for a completely different sort of walk – water birds, reeds and trees – before heading back to Clevedon.

The evening was so beautiful that we went off for our third walk of the day, round by the marine lakes and then up the hill. Here’s the view of the Mendips from Clevedon …

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and here’s the last shot I took of the setting sun with some fishermen and walkers obligingly silhouetted against the sky. Love the way the sun looks!

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Some of the featured photographs are available to buy at my RedBubble shop – MagsArt. You can buy them as framed or unframed prints, cards, prints to metal, cushion covers, tote bags … the possibilites are endless!

It’s so easy to walk and maintain fitness levels if you are enjoying what you are doing, and although we must have walked well over 6 miles in total, several of which were up and down hills, we hardly noticed the distance. For ideas on how to start walking your way to health, and have fun while you are doing it, see my Kindle book A beginner’s guide to walking for pleasure. It’s ASIN number is B00L3D7ENY, and it’s available to borrow free if you are a member of Amazon Prime.

Somerset summer sunsets

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Beautiful summer’s evening yesterday, so what better to do than take a walk along the sea front to the open evening on the pier.

Great opportunity for some differently lit photos of Clevedon – the pier usually closes late afternoon so you don’t usually get the chance to see the buildings bathed in the low evening sunshine. I likes the snap through one of the windows around the seats at the end of the pier, which make a very literal frame.

The pier is worth visiting. Restored to its Victorian glory, it isn’t showy or flash but a great place to see views from the River Severn suspension bridge down to the North Devon coast and across to Wales. You can get refreshments in the Pagoda cafe, and gifts and cards in the tollhouse.

They have plans to improve the facilities without detracting from character of the pier, so it’ll be interesting to see how things develop. The conversion of the old hotel adjoining the pier into flats is moving along now, although there still looks like a great deal to do, and the old Campbells landing pub opposite is due to be updated and realunched under new ownership. There is some local controversy and concern about the conditions of the licence – will rowdy crowds be attracted to the town, to spoil the peace and atmosphere? I doubt there will be a massive negative impact, as people who want nightlife will head for Bristol or Weston Super Mare, I would imagine, but of course it’s good to ask questions about what is intended. An extra restaurant could be an asset …

Anyway, if you don’t know Clevedon, or haven’t visited for a while, and are in or around North Somerset, do pop in. The next pier open evening is 15 August – with free entry.

A short hiatus (break or interruption in the continuity of a series, action etc.)

That’s what I’m having today. A  little space between things.

It’s easier in many ways, isn’t it, when you are flat out busy, because then you have so many things you have to do, you just get on and do them. Of course it’s stressful when you are busy. Tempers become frayed and you don’t have time to do the things you really want, to see or talk to friends and family properly, or to do things as well as you would like, but at least you don’t have that moment of weighing up your options and really looking at what you should be doing. Necessary from time to time, but not easy.

I’ve been lucky for ages, in that my projects have naturally moved themselves along so that just as I have finished working on a series of paintings, I have had freelance writing to do, and when there is a gap in the writing I have had a chance to work with Alec on our website. Currently I have several projects just simmering away on the back burner, and I need to finish off a few things.

  • alecarte – just needs occasional tweets to keep things interesting. Check.
  • magsart – ditto. Check.
  • A beginners guide to walking for pleasure – published on kindle. Tweet regularly. Check.
  • Write ezine article on the need to find pleasure in an exercise if you are going to be able to keep up a healthier regime. Check.
  • Complete read through of my second book, and publish. Decisions to make on how to publish – this one needs to be available in hard copy as well as Kindle I think, so a different form of publishing. I’ve done most of the thinking and just need to finish off. That should be the main task for today, obviously, but I need to be in the right mood!
  • Push forward my photography. Try some new techniques and work out the extra kit I need. A couple of filters at least.

The Ezine articles are an interesting idea. Alec (my better half) came across them in his reading, and the idea is that you write short articles on your area of expertise, which you then offer for people to use them as they wish. You aren’t paid for the article, but it draws attention to you website/product/service. I’ve had a three of my photography articles published on picturecorrect.com, most recently Can a photograph ever be perfect, which has drawn quite a bit of business to alecarte, and readers for this blog. I’ll be interested to see if referencing my book in an article increases awareness and sales.

But all this is really more of the same, and I know by now that I am a starter rather than a finisher. I do love new things to get my teeth into and the thrill of challenging myself to master new skills. So what I really want is something new to start, and that is where the problem of a hiatus day lies. My thoughts are going in circles and inspiration is not forth-coming. Finishing off things is not my preference, or indeed my forte. What I really need is to go for a good long walk to straighten my head out, but it’s been raining quite heavily here. The good news is that the weather is improving, and the forecast for the next few hours is pretty good, so I think that’s my plan made.

Good luck with your Sunday! I hope that whatever you are doing it feels like something positive and not treading water!

 

Photographic frustrations

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I’ve been itching to get out and work on some landscape photography, but recent weather and general business has been against me. Nothing half as nice as this pink pier which i took last year, but is still one of my favourites.

While it’s easy in North Somerset to get a great vista; whether your preference is for sea, atmospheric mud-flats, the architecture of an authentic Victorian pier, or a long view over farmland to distant blue hills;  it’s a challenge when there are frequent heavy showers – downpours really – and in between strong winds and/or bright cloudy skies that give a dazzling but difficult light to work in. The early sunrises and sunsets and unpredictable weather make it hard to catch the best of the light. And it’s a funny thing but the alarm doesn’t seem to work when it’s set for very early and the forecast is for rain!

Fortunately – or maybe unfortunately – I have had plenty of other things to do. Unfortunate in that I haven’t had the drive or the time to plan how to work round the weather to get the shots I want. Fortunate in that I have had lots more writing opportunities in the last few weeks.  I’m now doing some work for my husband’s nephew and am really enjoying it. It’s interesting because it is private sector based, whereas the bulk of my business writing has been for the public sector, and it’s going very well. The trick I have (some people call it a talent, and who am I to argue?) is that I am able to grasp the wider implications of what I need to write quite quickly, so although I will do even better work as I learn more about the business, my contributions are already being useful enough.

I’ve also finished the first draft of my first book. I won’t say more about it just yet, but it’s non-fiction and will just be published as an e-book. I’m really interested to find out how that all works. Plus we’ve been busy working on and promoting our websites Alecarte and Magsart. My Magsart shop on Redbubble gets plenty of views, helped by the fact that Redbubble are promoting their new services quite widely. It’s even more pleasing that our start-from-scratch site, Alecarte, is also getting consistent visits, averaging about 100 a day with highs of over 200.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, whether you wanted to know or not! Let’s hope we get some more settled and hopefully sony weather before the end of June.