I am often asked how I came up with ‘spikey mouse photography‘ for my business, I have to admit that it is all thanks to a boy called Ben who wanted to buy his mum a birthday present. Ben is my eldest son and one day when he was out with his grandmother he decided that he was going to buy me a present for my birthday, I think he was around 3 or 4 years old at the time. They finally came up with a ceramic ‘Hedgie’ hedgehog and Ben has been buying me 2 or 3 of them a year ever since. It is an understatement to say that I now have quite a collection and when I was naming my new business adventure everyone suggested using ‘Hedgehog’ but I wanted something a little different and found that in Bengali Hedgehog was spikey mouse and a business was born! Strange how things happen, I have a great and memorable company name and am reminded every business day of my little boy Ben and my lovely Mum who has sadly passed away now. Ben is now a grown man and a father himself and is really happy I chose to use him as my muse, thank you Ben. x
Do we really want another golf course on the Wirral? We already have over a dozen courses, there is even a women’s course, does it differ to men’s? Hoylake, Wallasey, Caldy, Leasowe, Bidston, Heswall, Eastham etc etc….. they rang in difficulty, Hoylake home of the Open golf championship to Adventure Golf in New Brighton. Dotted around the edges of our beautiful peninsular making the most of our parklands, there are short courses (9 holes), windy, sandy courses, a women’s course, flat courses, historic courses, i suppose if you were a serious golfer you could play any way you fancied, as long as your a member.
If you look at the Wirral as a whole it is made up of 60 square miles of fabulous seaside, parkland, woodland, rural walks and cycling routes, historic villages, industry, great restaurants and many wonderful artists in an active artist community. There are over 320.000 people situates in towns and villages over the Wirral but there is also a lot of rural land, we have farms, pigs, cattle, sheep, turkeys, award winning farm shops, Tam O’shanter urban farm and GreenBelt land which should be left untouched.
Because of where we are situated Wirral is lucky enough to be visited by many unusual birds through out the year with Parkgate being one natural hotspot. Both the Mersey and Dee estuaries are internationally important wildlife sites for waders and wildfowl in winter. We also have marsh land and reed beds home to Natterjack Toads. Do we want all of this spoiled by yet another Golf course/resort?
Jack Nicklaus is going to design our new course, he has been involved in the design of 290 courses. At least 70 Nicklaus Design courses have been ranked by major industry publications but how many have failed? Polaris World in Spain crashed and burned, Mount Holly Club Utah didn’t work so why should it work here? We dont need our environment disturbed, our animals moved from their homes, our flood plain interfered with so a minority can wack a small ball around our countryside. This will lead to new roads, new homes we wont be able to afford and more traffic!
This is not one of those ‘Not in my back yard’ type of cries, we really dont need this golf resort, change one of the established courses, give it a new designation but seriously dont let Jack Nicklaus ruin what is such beautiful countryside. There is a meeting on March 29th 2016 at West Kirby United Reform Church starting at 7.30pm for anyone who would like to air their views or just find out more details. Please dont leave it to others to raise their concerns, every voice needs to be heard.
I think this is the first wanderings with Chris post of the year, we haven’t been out very much because of ill health and commitments but it was a beautiful spring day, the sun was shining and we just had to get out of the house and go for a walk. For the past few years i have been battling with Fibromyalgia and arthritis in my hip and knee so walking is very painful and slow and Chris has had problems with his legs too so our walk down to the nature reserve was slow! Just before we went in through the gate we stopped for a look out over the fields towards Greasby and there posing majestically in the pond was a Grey Heron. Major excitement! I managed to get 20 or so shots before it flew off to the other side of the pond, i’m not convinced that they are totally in focus as i didn’t have time to use my tripod but what a beautiful bird!
The nature reserve is actually reclaimed land, back in the distant past when i was a child it was actually the local refuse tip and over time a dip developed which filled with water. I can remember during one winter taking our dog down and walking out onto the ice that had formed on the pond, looking back we are really lucky the ice didn’t break under us. When the council decided that the refuse tip was ‘full’ they landscaped and a group of local families asked the council if they could turn it into a Nature reserve. After a great deal of time and hard work they dug out the pond, planted trees and rushes, added an island in the middle and soon after the wildlife flocked to it. It’s even stocked with fish.
We had a slow walk around the pond and i managed to take quite a few photos, there was lots of blossom and spring flowers and ducks, geese etc, i can’t wait for the babies to appear, cute little chicks to photograph and be chased away from 🙂 We have a couple of buzzards which i would love to photograph but i don’t know where they roost and they fly way to high for me to successfully photograph. We had a lovely walk and on the way home bumped into a lovely lady called Diane and her horse Aztec, Diane let me take some photos of her with Aztec, i hope she likes them. Hopefully with the nice weather over the coming weeks we will get out more, with or without children, i cant wait to see where our adventures take us next.
Family holidays. Love them or hate them they are an integral part of the trial by summer school holidays. Ours usually consist of mum, dad and two out of three kids now, with the usual bickering and moaning and wanting to go home. We’re used to it and a holiday wouldn’t be the same without it. We had a weeks camping owed to us from last years flooded camp site, so we upgraded to a caravan as i didn’t think we had it in us to camp this time, just too tired, and it was great! We planned our week so we had flexibility for the weather and managed to fit in some great days out. Its done us, me and Chris, a great deal of good to get away from the trials of cancer treatments, (my mum) and the angst of late teenage, (eldest child) . From the get go i said this would be a holiday on MY terms and they would do what I wanted to do and you know what, they did. We went to all of the places I wanted to go and take photos, they even enjoyed themselves and i took them where they wanted to go and took photos there too. Re visiting places was great and i also found a ‘tin tabernacle’ hidden at the side of the main road in a copse of trees, hidden and abandoned since the mid 80’s, which was a fantastic find. I love going to Cumbria because the land is totally different from the Wirral. It has High hills, deep valleys, folds and dips and lots of forestation. It’s also inland so the Lakes are spectacular, we went to Windermere and cruised the lake which is great fun, Ambleside to see the house on the bridge, Penrith, Ulswater, Kendall, Appleby, we visited waterfalls which were fantastic because of the rain, South lakes wildlife park to see the snow leopards and we also took it easy, resting, relaxing and having family time together, yes we were one short but we can make up for that another time.
I was a little worried about the new car and if it would live up to expectation as its smaller but we did ok, no one was squashed, all our stuff fitted in the roof bag and boot and we learned some good stuff about the car, so good all round, i will be posting on my other blog wanderingsinafiat500l.wordpress.com my findings if you are interested.
After the last trip looking for native Bluebells, i kind of got into taking pictures of them and wondered where locally we would find enough flowers to capture a great photo. It turned out to be Burton, the mere actually. We had been to the RSPB site earlier in the year, unknowingly stealing a visit as we didn’t realise we needed to pay. As We walked through the woods we were greeted by a carpet of flowers, a plethora of bugs and the odd sculpture.
We crossed paths with two women visiting the area and they had been lucky to have seen a baby badger just around the bend from where we were photographing, they were very excited about this and we swapped stories for a few minutes, however when we walked further along the badgers had all gone away.
Someone has a great sense of humor as the sculptures are great and lots of fun!
Chris knew i wanted to take some photos of Bluebells in a wooded situation and while my back was turned researched where we were to go for this weeks wanderings. He chose Bluebell Cottage circular walk and RHS registered Bluebell cottage garden and nursery situated in the Weaver Valley, Cheshire. Its a bit of a trek up a narrow one lane track and you park on a grassy field but it is well worth it. You pay £3.50 to go into the gardens and nursery, where there is a help yourself tea room that serves lovely ice-cream and home made cake and a, well port-a-loo is not quite the right description, more shed done out nice, toilet. We walked around the gardens and ooh’d and ahhh’d over the lovely plants, took some photos and then just had to stop for coffee and cake. (the fruit cake was delicious)
Fortified, we set off to discover the Bluebell woods, over the field and through the new planting in the woods and there they were, carpets of beautiful jewel like flowers, all native to the British Isles. I didnt know where to look next, there were lovely pictures just waiting to be taken and take them i did! I used my new 50mm prime lens for some shots as i wanted a very shallow depth of field. I didnt know how well it would work as i have never used a prime lens before, i think it worked ok, i am pleased with what i have, i also used my 55-200mm lens as we found an amazing viaduct when we went on the Bluebell Cottage circular walk.
There is more to follow…………………………………
Having been really busy all week Chris and I escaped the family and wandered down to a local park in West Kirby, Ashton Park, http://www.ashtonpark.btck.co.uk/History/AfullerHistoryofAshtonPark as i wanted to try out my new camera.
I have exchanged my Nikon D3100 for a Nikon D7000 and i am really excited about using it, there are lots of new buttons to learn 🙂 and remember. This camera does trip me up though as i keep forgeting to put back the memory card as it doesnt tell you that there is no card in the slot 😦 and i took some lovely photos the other night of the sunset without a memory card, luckily the following evening was a similar sunset, this time with a memory card!
Anyway getting back to our wanderings, we wandered down to the park on a lovely sunny day. I took some photos of the trees, then we wandered down to the lake and i took some photos of the birds and while we were chatting to a waitress at the coffee bar she let slip that it was the Wilson Trophy on Marine Lake. Last year we had stumbled upon the race and i had taken some great photos with a Nikon D60 that i had borrowed, this year i had my own camera and a 55-200mm lens which did the job nicely. We have had ideal conditions for the racing this weekend and there were plenty of nail biting moments. Wessex Exempt won the trophy, well done Ben Ainslie and his team. http://www.wksc.net/wilsontrophy/
I mentioned to Chris that i had the urge to photograph a waterfall, i think it was because i wanted to experiment with moving water and how it would be affected when i used different techniques like filters and long exposures. I asked Chris to find me one within a short drive and he came up with Dyserth in Wales. Never heard of it i hear you shout, well me neither. I think it has something to do with the A55 and by passing places to get to who knows where. Anyway, we went. Surprisingly the waterfall is on waterfall road, you cant miss it, you drive down the hill, around the bend and bam there it is. Its only little, a trickle compared to some, about 70 feet high so it does rumble a bit. We went on a lovely sunny day, it had snowed the previous day but there was not very much on the ground though it was wet under foot, read muddy. To get to the top of the falls you have to walk up steps between two walls, i had thought it had recently been built that way but it looks like it was built for a water wheel and there had been a mill there at some point. Anyway after walking to the top we wandered around a bit, found the river, more stream really, i took a whole bunch of photos as it was really lovely and these are some of the photos. I have included an url if you want more information, i hope its of interest to you.
On Monday i dragged my poor husband Chris (clawfish) down to New Brighton. Why? Because we had the most fantastic high tide at mid day combined with high winds, sunshine and beautiful cloudy sky’s. I have recently stumbled upon a youtube video of a guy teaching a group of photographers how to make HDR photos in Photomatix Pro. I have been using photoshop and the HDR tool in that program, however i was not getting the results that i wanted. I wanted outstanding images, i know you need great images to start with and i knew i could get those but how would i get the finished image that i craved. And then along comes BHphotovideopro and shows me in a short video what i needed to do. So taking my poor husband, my Nikon D3100, which i have just discovered does not take bracketed exposures :(, and my tripod we headed off down to Fort Perch lighthouse knowing we would come home with some great images. What we didnt realise was that we would also come home covered in sand, froth from the water and with totally windswept hair.(Well me not Chris, he is a bit follicly challenged, sorry Chris.) I was so excited to load the pictures onto my laptop. I shot in raw as i believe this is the optimum for your images, opened them in Photoshop Bridge and was really pleased at my results. I chose the three images i needed, loaded them into Photomatix Pro and let it do its thing. A couple of the images came out, well wonky but I got six images that i am so pleased with, i know they need some work in Photoshop but until i figure what to do with them, then they are the best HDR images i own. I have shared them on facebook and twitter and had a lot of views and likes, one thing bothers the hell out of me though, why doesn’t anyone comment on them! How do you learn if no one tells you their opinions on what you produce. I would love to hear what they think and feel i am grown up enough not to be gutted when the idiot tells me he can do better than me, lol. So, if you have a comment, can give me constructive advice, i will appreciate it, give it a go and if it works, great. If you dont like my work tough! Its my style, my take on the genre and really i am the only one who has to be proud of what i produce. Take a look at the images, feast your eyes on the wonder of New Brighton beach and please, let me know what you think. Thanks. x