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.

berthaphoog

 

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?

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.

 

Floods and gales part II. It’s getting personal.

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I wasn’t going to add to the amount of words being bandied about over the continuing rain and floods, but my hand has been forced.

How unhelpful to have Eric Pickles and others in government sniping at the Environment Agency! Without unlimited funding, how could they have put in sufficient water management and flood defences to stop flooding with the amount of rain we have seen this winter?  And can you imagine the uproar there would have been if they had pushed for extra funding for flood defences five years ago, when the UK was in the middle of a dry period, with very low rainfall each winter? Well I can imagine the headlines, and they wouldn’t have been pretty!

The situation is dreadful and steps need to be taken to help those affected as much as possible in the short term, but almost more importantly we need to prevent this extent of flooding happening again.

Long term solutions are going to take real leadership and imagination. Yes, we need to spend money, but we need to spend it wisely. We need to hear about all the ways in which we can capture heavy winter rain to hold it back from causing floods to be used during dry months, as I can’t imagine dredging rivers alone will be enough. Perhaps large rain storage tanks installed wherever possible (new developments, parks, public land …) to be pumped out during the summer for irrigating crops, watering gardens, flushing toilets and the like.   Perhaps a law that buildings on low lying or flood risk land need to be raised up above the possible flood levels on stilts.  It should not be beyond our collective skills to come up with solutions that manage water to save properties, businesses and lives, but which can also help the wider environment including wildlife.  Maybe we can build in some green energy production into the bargain.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that we need to be clever and collaborative to do this well. Come on, politicians!  Stop blaming everyone in sight and starting working on a big plan for the long term.