Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Wonderful Wedding in Reading!

May is a month to be merry for sure, so what better time of year for a right good knees up and the joining of hands in marriage?!!

Louise and Graham were married in a beautiful ceremony at Pincents Manor in Reading, right here in the Royal County of Berkshire.

Watched by their families and their closest friends, Louise and Graham sparkled with fun and life and, of course, their love!

The rain held off, the sun came out, the smiles were everywhere and the day went so fast I felt like I was in this huge wave of happiness and it felt great!!!

Wedding photography is really hard work... I mean, really physically hard work! I could barely move for about 3 days after; my thigh muscles and shoulders and arms were burning!

Constantly looking for not only the classic, beautiful shots, but also the unposed, unaware and charming shots... the ones that really sparkle with the magic of the day, the ones that make the wedding special and personal.

But why the aching muscles?

Well, I use a fairly hefty camera for a start, and I also get myself in awkward and quite uncomfortable positions to get better angles or to get better backgrounds.

Spending a few solid hours in such positions and holding the camera in portrait mode for a lot of the time can get pretty tiring on weedy muscles like mine!

I suppose I could go to the gym or do more to keep fit, but hey ho, all that just eats into time that I'd much rather use to take my camera out for a walk!!!

So, weddings are hard work, but wow, I love it! It's so much worth the pain!! Congratulations to Louise and Graham, and all the best for a very long and happy future together!

Rebecca, X

Sunday, 1 May 2011

To Bollington and Beyond!

I'm loving this whole holiday thing!

I've been out and about again, travelling up to Bollington in Cheshire to stay with my sister and her family. Bollington is a great place; tucked into the edge of the Peak District, only a short drive from Manchester but seemingly a million miles away, it's a charming small town with a huge array of options for days out... not least of which is Jodrell Bank, talking of arrays!

I didn't visit the Jod on this trip, though I shall get back there soon if I can!

My nephews and niece are all real water babies and are often found in it or on it in one way or another! Luckily for them they have access to the canal... perfect for them to canoe / kayak / generally bob about on, perfect me to stroll along and take my camera for a walk! Leaving the poor guys at home to do their revision, I wandered along for a couple of hours to see what I could see.

It's such a peaceful place and was perfect for recharging my still rather worn out spirits!

Still on the lookout for a kingfisher moment, still not getting one, but I did get a quite nice encounter with the equally stunning heron!

Next on the list of things to do for the week was a fantastic day out on The Roaches with my good friend Andy.

High pressure gave us a superb day to explore the crags and high spots, but did also unfortunately make it rather hazy... not so good for interesting skies or distant views!

Still, it was a stunning place to be in and we had a fab day out... though I don't think Andy will be quite so keen to return to Lud's Church anytime soon!!! Long story, but the upshot was we saw it at least 3 times that afternoon! It's well worth a visit, but our poor old legs (ok, sorry Andy, my poor old legs!!), had really had enough after the first visit. Still, all good reason to get another ice cream from the handily placed van up at the car park!

A nice ice cream was also had at Tatton Park the next day! The sun was roasting again and the deer on the park had obviously decided that rather than join the queue for the ice cream van, they'd cool off quicker with a dip in the lake!!!

The deer are free to wander the park and munch grass wherever they like within the confines of the cattle grids.

They are lovely to see and it was even more magical to see them splashing about in the water to cool off! Lovely!!

The holiday continued with a road trip down to the Southampton area. Here we are on the road...

quite literally 'on the road'!!! Well, it was a long journey! Had to pass the time somehow!

A brief pitstop at Warwick Services and a video happy birthday sing song for Richard. Not wanting to look a complete nutter in the car park singing by myself, I tried to rope in the others. Oh well. At least Jim bravely came to help out his poor old bonkers aunty Becca!

It was appreciated Jim, thanks ;-) Richard appreciated it too, though I don't know that I can stretch it so far as to say he enjoyed it!!! Singing isn't my strong point. Hey ho.

Anyway, back on the road we went straight down to the Submarine Museum at Portsmouth. It's not a huge place but it really is worth a visit. By bizarre coincidence, my friend who had his birthday song that day was formerly a submariner and spent his training days here at HMS Dolphin! By even more coincidence, the museum has the propeller from his boat on display (HMS Resolution)!!

It's actually quite a beautiful thing when you look at it close up...

though I clearly wouldn't have wanted to see it at all had I been in the water! It is quite something to see though, even now after it had spent 30 years in the sea... very impressive!

HMS Alliance was also very, very impressive! The museum are hoping to raise enough funds to restore it, as it is really suffering with age and exposure to elements. Hopefully the fundraising will work in time and Alliance be brought back to her former glory.

It was fascinating to tour inside HMS Alliance. It has to be said, deep respect for all the chaps who ever worked on her and for all submariners worldwide!!!

Having spent a few very interesting hours at the museum, we headed back towards Southampton to pitch the tents.

It's been a LONG time since I've been camping and I was a bit dubious about it, but it was great! I'm going to buy me a tent now and do some more!! Not quite so sure I'll be singing along at the camp fire again any time soon, but it was a cracking good laugh!

Thanks Helen, and John, Jim,


and, a huge thanks to Rosie for sharing her tent with her old aunty B!

Oh, and also thanks to Jim for letting us use his hammock...

it was very, very comfy, nice one Jim!

Rebecca, X

Tima's Happy Dogs!

They say that owners resemble their dogs, or is it dogs resemble their owners??? Either way, Tima Lund's dogs are, without doubt, four-legged furry versions of their owner! Happy, fun, full of life and energy and intelligent to boot.

I like Tima, I LOVE her dogs! A studio session with the Cocker Spaniels and the German Shepherds was always going to be fun. It was made easy by Tima's excellent handling, Helen's brilliant assistance with the tickle stick and the fantastically good-natured dogs!

First up was the Ace Man. He is still a wee man, not long out of puppy class, but he was exceptionally well behaved. Given a few minutes to bounce excitedly round the room and wag his entire body at absolutely everything, Ace settled and posed like a pro celeb!

Next up was the birthday girl, Doodle Bug. Celebrating her first birthday, she looked beautiful, behaved impeccably and is every inch a star!

Uncle Vinnie is an older paw at the whole posing mularkey, striding happily onto the set he was ever ready for his close-ups!

Pickle looked sleek, elegant and beautiful.

She's full of fun but is gentle-natured and highly intelligent. A gorgeous, gorgeous dog!

The pups couldn't be ignored... Cagney & Lacey were 5 weeks old and just had to get a look at everything and everyone. No corner was left unexplored!

Lacey already has a new home for when she's old enough to leave, Cagney will be sure to follow suit soon too. She's beautiful and intelligent, already responding to recall. Both dogs will, with the correct ongoing training and home life, make fantastic companions for the right family!

Tima won't let her pups go to just anyone, she needs to know that the dogs will be loved and looked after in the right way, so that they continue to be the happy healthy dogs that they start life as.

I know it's often said, but please, please don't get a pup just because they look cute!!! Dogs are a huge commitment for a long time. The rewards are amazing, but there needs to be more behind the reasoning to have a dog than just keeping your kiddies happy!

Finally, last but by no means least, ZeZe sat for her portraits.

A beautiful soul, ZeZe really is top! She's also meticulous about preparing for the camera!!!

Can't fault her!

Thanks to Tima and Helen for a great shoot. I hope you enjoy the photos!

Rebecca, X

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Road Trip

Last weekend was a very busy one, but a smashing one!

My mate Helen and I set off from Berkshire at 10.30am with flasks of coffee, sausage rolls and a whole lot of sweeties ready for the long haul up to Dundee.

Stopping for the obligatory wees and walkies along the way, we made good time and arrived at Discovery Quay just in time for tea! Except we couldn't be bothered going out so just spread out the provisions from the road trip and had a picnic on Helen's bed! Much better idea!!

Saturday was a bit mixed, as the morning was taken up by a return to my old house to collect the rest of my things. I'd brought all my clothes and camera gear down before, but now I had to find room in Helen's car for all my books, photo albums and a large globe... oh, and a rather statuesque santa with a bell on his hat!!!

We'd made the most of the Dundee stop though, making sure we dropped by Clark's for a black pudding & egg roll, mmmm, and an apple slice to be saved for later! Clark's apple slices are to die for!!! I've had nothing like it since moving back down south and I was dribbling all the way up the M6 in anticipation!!!

So, loaded up with both calories and books, we headed across to tour my old favourite haunts. First stop was Glenshee. The weather wasn't what you'd call perfect, but it was ok.

The rain stopped long enough to take a short walk along the Callater Burn where we found a lovely place for coffee and a peer through the bins for whatever birdies might be about. Helen's hubby, Mick, had made a couple of walking sticks for us and wow, what a great idea! I couldn't believe how much strain they take off the hips and the lumbar spine!! They are amazing... and beautifully crafted too, I am so very, very impressed!

Thanks Mick!

Next stop was in Killin, but we took a slightly scenic route to go and see the caravan I lived in for 4 years when I first moved into the area. Slightly disconcerting was the fact that even after 9 years, the lady in charge at the campsite knew who I was... and she didn't even live there at the time!!! Hmmm, I took it as a positive thing, let's hope it was!

We then drove across Moulin Moor and stopped at the layby opposite Auld Mr Soutar's Hoose for more coffee and the scrummy apple slices... more like apple thins now actually, as they were buried under a hundredweight of books!!! Still tasted scrummy though!

On to Killin and a reunion with Walter, Susan and Sid, my Intrepid friends who were up for the night as well. It was a fantastic night, good food, great company and such a good laugh, real jaw-aching, belly-aching laughs! Superb!!

A few real ales and some lemon vodkas later, (and some rum in Helen's case), we stumbled up to our twin room in the attic with vague notions of maybe getting up for sunrise if the clouds cleared overnight.

Thankfully the clocks changed that night, springing forward by an hour. Again, this was a positive thing... rather than losing an hour in bed, we gained an hour of our holiday and, thankfully, sunrise was now roughly 7-ish instead of 6-ish!!! Much more sociable!

Peeping beyond the curtain at a little before 7am, I saw the sky was already pretty light and that the clouds had lifted and it had the makings of a beautiful day!

But we were very, very close to sunrise and we had to run if we were going to make it. So we did. Straight into a bog and a bootful of peaty water!! Which was nice!

Undeterred, we circled round the bog and arrived at the shore of Loch Tay with moments to spare!

The initial rush and panic over, we had time to sit and drink in the beauty of the morning and the peace of the landscape...

but, I have to be honest, wishing we'd packed a flask of coffee and thinking really hard about whether to knock on the fishermen's tent to see if they'd share any breakfast with a couple of slightly hungover photographers!

Luckily Helen found a couple of hot cross buns left over from the day before at the bottom of the bag, so we ate those instead and the fishermen were left to sleep in ignorance of how close they'd come to losing half of their breakfast!!

We wandered back to the hotel in time for breakfast with Susan, Walter and Sid, and plans were hatched for a tour round the Ben Lawers range. The map showed a promising looking drive from Killin that cut round behind Ben Lawers and then popped out at Kenmore. Perfick! Except there was no mention on the map that the road was now shut halfway along it due to enormous potholes that developed after the hard winter they'd just experienced up there!

Back in Killin, we agreed to follow the sat nav to the tearooms at Bridge of Balgie. Susan was driving ahead of us to lead the way, but by some oversight we also left our road atlas with them... so they had the sat nav and the map!

That wouldn't have been a problem if the road hadn't suddenly turned into the M25 as soon as Susan pulled out onto it, meaning we were delayed in setting off. Susan saw a blue car behind, thought (not unreasonably) that it was us and carried on following Mr Tom's instructions. We were left to follow our noses. It didn't go well.

It was very scenic and we did spot a hen harrier while out on our diversion, but we were a LONG way from any tearooms, let alone the one at Bridge of Balgie!! Deciding that the best thing to do was turn around and go back along the main road, we eventually found the turning that we should have taken first time! Oops!!

We'd tried several times to ring Walter but no signal put the dampeners on that. We were a good 2 hours behind the others before we eventually caught up, but we were reunited and all was laughed away! Slightly hysterical laughter maybe, but we laughed it off anyway!

The poor Intrepids were stoked full of tea, so it seemed a plan to make the next stop at the toilets a mile down the road. We then carried on to Fortingall to see the 5000 year old yew tree at the church. It's astonishing to be in the presence of something that has seen the whole of history in that place... absolutely mind-blowingly astonishing! Yew trees are found in just about every church yard up and down the UK. Respected for their ability to rejuvenate and grow, prehistoric and medieval peoples believed the Yew to have magical properties. I'm rather inclined to think so too!

A bite to eat and another wee stop later found us at the Hermitage by Dunkeld. A favourite haunt of mine, I was desperate to get there before dark to have a good look round.

It's a fantastic place, I've written about it before, but you really do need to go and have a look if you ever pass through Perthshire on the A9. Trust me, it's well worth the stop!

A night in Perth and then it was back down the road to home and reality again.

My life in Scotland may be done, but I can be very, very sure that I'll be back!

Rebecca, X

Mother's Day

A couple of weekends ago saw me over in Reading taking family portraits for Louise and Graham. We had a real laugh and enjoyed it immensely, watching the kids express themselves and just be themselves in the mobile studio. We set no time limits, it takes as long as it takes, and we had no plans that couldn't change at the drop of a hat. We just let the shoot unfold according to the kids and how they got on together... which they did beautifully! There are plenty of colour shots and some fun ones amongst dad's legs and playing with a big fluffy dog, but these are the ones I like for their innocence and simplicity. I don't know what Louise is doing today, but as it's Mother's Day and she's got two fantastic children, I hope she's doing something fab!! A lovely family, great fun and a dream to photograph. Thanks Louise, I really enjoyed the shoot and hope you did too! Rebecca, X

Barkham Mad!

Barkham Church nestles quietly in a little lane away from the hustle of the main village and is typical of the many flint faced buildings in this area. It's really quite beautiful at any time of day, but it is even more so at night I think. Lit from one side by the constantly busy village hall and on the other by the biggest full moon in 20 years (apparently... though obviously the moon itself is no bigger at all - it's just the same size as before but I guess we're a bit closer to it than we have been for 20 years!), anyway, I toddled down to the church that night (don't ask me which night 'cos it was ages ago now and I don't even remember what I did last night!!), a little uncertain as to how I'd get on. Last time I tried to take photos of a church after dark I nearly died of fright with all the strange noises and rustlings and things tugging at my jacket (turned out to be branches of a shrub but it felt very much like skeletal fingers to my heightened imagination!!). I also felt rather anxious at Auld Mr Soutar's Hoose up on Moulin Moor when I went there after dark, alone, stumbling about the boggy tussocks and trying to ignore the feelings that 'something' was at my back all the time! Barkham Church was a bit different though. This night, the strangest noise came from my keyring... I have a little pig with a blue light torch that shines from it's nostrils and oinks every time you switch it on! The torch was very useful so there was a fair amount of oinking going on, which would certainly put off anything that was lurking in the shadows with any mischevious intent!! There was also quite a noise coming from the party going on at the village hall. Not quite sure what the music was, but it certainly wasn't 'Village People' or any of the other cheesy party tunes we used to try and dance along to! Thankfully nobody came stumbling out of the party, because I'm not sure what they'd have made of a fleece-wearing anorak wielding a flashing oinking pig!! Barkham mad, probably! Rebecca, x

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Bourne Again!

Last week was such a tonic for me. I've already posted about my trip to Aberlady and success at Crufts, but before that I had a fantastic few days in Lincolnshire with my very great and very true friends Margaret and Paul.

A rowdy play with Roxy helped too! What a great dog she is, I love her so much!!

After a month of crying and illness and general downright miserableness, I'd arrived in Bourne a bit of a wreck. Five minutes later I was smiling, ten minutes later I was laughing, and after a couple of hours I felt so unbelievably refreshed and revived and perked up that I really did feel born again!

Honestly, I did. It all sounds a bit drama queen I know, but it's true!

Margaret had made plans though, and what a fab weekend it was! Having arrived on the Saturday, Sunday saw us up at Fineshade Woods in Rutland for a day out with a wildlife photographer and Margaret's great friend Kat.

Kat and Malc were instantly warm and welcoming and it felt like we'd all known each other for ages... it was gonna be a really good day!

It was!! The birds came out to play, the cameras came out to play, and so did we!

It was a brilliant day out and revived me in a way nothing much else could have done! Spot on Margaret, and a huge thanks to Kat and Malc too!!

We travelled back to Bourne pretty much carefree and full of anticipation at maybe seeing barn owls in the fields where Margaret and Kat walk their dogs.

We didn't really expect too much though, as they both said they'd not seen the owls at that time of day before, but wow, within only a couple of minutes of arriving there it was, swooping away from it's nesting box in the barn rafters and across the field. Only Margaret had the savvy to have her camera ready, so unfortunately I didn't get any shots, but what a privilege it is to see such a beautiful creature so close up!

Such a privilege in fact, that no sooner had that one disappeared than another one swooped out and across the fields too! Again, no photos, but again, how special just to be there! I'll hopefully be more prepared next time!!!

Monday was also a good day out. We went in to Peterborough and had not only the best muffins in the world ever, but also a lovely walk round Peterborough Cathedral. It really is beautiful inside and, again, next time I go I shall be armed with my camera! It's stunning!!

The burial place of Katherine of Aragon and first burial place of Mary Queen of Scots, the Cathedral has a long and fascinating history. It's architecture is quite unlike that of any other Cathedral I've visited and the ceilings are magnificent. Really magnificent.

We returned to Bourne that evening and waited for Margaret's son Paul, a primary school teacher with a bit of a problem. He's a superb teacher, having been commended in previous Ofsted visits, but Tuesday and Wednesday were going to see Ofsted back again. Andrew's teaching assistant had gone sick and Andrew had a dozen fishing rods and various other things to make and do. I like a challenge and thought "how hard can it be?" ...all that was needed was to stick a length of string to one end of a small piece of cane and stick a round magnet to the other end. Easy eh?

Er, no actually! My mum has always said I'm a bit cack-handed and it seems she's right!! There was sellotape on all surfaces, including my hair at one point, magnets were sticking fast to each other... and the radiator! The strings were getting knotted and I couldn't untie them because the magnets were stuck together again!!! Honestly, how hard could it be?!!!! Still, got there in the end and Andrew had 12 fishing rods and quite a few magnetic fishes to take to work the next day, so it all turned out ok, thank goodness!

A walk across the fields on Tuesday morning and then it was time to be off to catch the train to Edinburgh. It was such a good wee break and I can't say thank you enough to Margaret and Paul. I can't wait to come back, let's hope it's soon!!!

Rebecca XX still smiling now! :-D