Caroline Shipsey

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Reasons to blog ?

I'm really not sure why we blog - I would never have thought of leaving my diary around so that all the world could read it, so why am I doing this ? Well for today's contribution I have the highly entertaining Laughing Gypsy to thank and also BlogRush. The former is a photographer and the latter is supposed to be a way of generating traffic to my blog, which I hope would lead on to my website, and then with any luck to the sale or two. I've always thought that if you are an entrepreneur at heart or just plain unemployable then the best way to be sure of an income is to have your eggs in several different baskets. Then if you smash them all in one basket at least you have the others to sell. Well my photography basket, as in my website, is yielding nothing just now - zilch, so are my eggs broken and I just can't see it ? I am now going to begin a very serious campaign to remedy this........hmmmm scrambled maybe, poached....
Ah another thing - I think even less people read my blog than would my diary - so is there something to be learned from this ?

Monday, 24 September 2007

Monsters in the Forest

For several weeks now there has been a "thinning operation" taking place in the forestry at Stockhill where I often walk. As forestry plantations go this is a particularly attractive area and is popular with dog walkers, cyclists and families. However, the "thinning", which is supposed to be for the benefit of all, has in the uninformed opinion of many of us, wreaked havoc across the whole area. Mostly the public have been kept out of areas where the work is actually taking place and we only get to see what remains after the machinery has done its worst. It seems like the whole forest is a massive disaster area with piles of brushwood and deep tracks in the undergrowth cut through by the machinery. It is quite upsetting to see, especially as I have taken many beautiful photographs there. I was walking there at dusk last night when suddenly, through the gloom, I saw this monstrous tractor with a huge arm extended before me, it was parked amongst the trees, quietly sitting there like a sleeping beastie just waiting for its next victim.

Time to investigate further - I wondered if the Forestry Commission were aware of how things are progressing and what their view is of it. They are the government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands. I spoke to a very helpful gentleman called Lorne Campbell who is obviously a very experienced forester. In his opinion this operation is tidy and well executed, and whilst there is residual brushwood and mess, he is confident the forest will look much better for it in 2 years time. The area around the All Ability Trail especially will benefit as the trees would encroach on this. So there is nothing more to be said - it is a plantation and needs to be managed. Every 5 years this type of operation needs to take place to allow trees to reach maturity and for regeneration. The original planting was mainly done in the 1940's and 50's with some more recently taking place during the 1980's. I'm not keen on "management" of any kind in the natural world or even in a forestry plantation, I guess I was expecting this to be more like a "mass pruning" event - ah well .......

Thursday, 20 September 2007

A very special lady

Eileen Parker, aged 95 years and 11 months, lies in her bed at the nursing home. The sheet covering her has a few wrinkles in it, each wrinkle defines part of her tiny body, a leg, an arm. Her shoulders are bare, her nightdress reveals the detail of the joints and I can hardly bear to look, it frightens me to see this. Her skin is so thin I can see every vein in her hands and arms, purple blotches cover her body. She needs oxygen constantly and even with it her chest heaves as she takes a breath. She is so weak that just opening her eyes seems to take what strength she has, but, then a smile lights up the room as she recognizes me and she clearly says "Hello my love" this is the longest sentence she has spoken for several weeks now.

If death is cruel then the act of dying is even more so, it has been happening before my eyes for the past 12 months, I have witnessed the finest details of life being lost. At Christmastime the hand not strong enough to hold a pen and write cards as in previous years, the same hand now finding the weight of a cup too much to hold to her lips. Receding gums rendering dentures too big - but she is so weak that any remedial treatment is just too much effort. Spectacles bruise the fragile face. Clothes tear the skin as she is dressed, not through any rough treatment but because she is so very, very frail. Despite all this she is still clinging on to life, I wish I knew why, I wonder if there is some special particular 'thing' that needs to happen before she can just remain peacefully asleep. If there is, then I wish she could tell me, but at this stage of her life questions often cause distress, so I do not ask I just search her face for an answer.

This process is hard enough to observe in an elderly person, so my heart goes out to anyone with a loved one whose life should have been longer but is seeing the life go from them at age 30, 40, 50 - whatever age it is never long enough.

Each time I visit I wonder if it will be the last, everytime the phone rings is it the call that will bring me the news of her passing, and yet she fights on - a very special lady is my dear Mum.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Walking, walking, walking ........

Mostly when I walk I am happy, my spirits lift and any bothersome thoughts just get blown away by the wind, thats why I love it so. When the weather is on the change, and the skies filled with everchanging clouds then that is the icing on the cake for me.

When I left home on Sunday afternoon the sky was grey and dull-looking, but no matter I headed for Charterhouse masts to walk on Blackdown. There was a really strong wind blowing and as I drove up the hill I could see a really dramatic front moving in from the west. For the next two hours the clouds were a delight, the dogs were having a whale of a time and I was happily taking photographs. And so we trundled onwards and eventually made it to the trig point. Sometimes the ground was just too bumpy for Fly to ride in the buggy, so she gallantly hopped along while I dragged and bounced it behind me.

It was a super walk, nice light, loads of pics, happy dogs, walking back to the car in the fading light I had a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. At home I downloaded the pics from my P&S camera and then started with the DSLR - looking good, Yipeeee! It was then I discovered that the full card I had taken from my camera while out walking was not in the bag - pockets, car, NOWHERE !! In a second the joy of my walk evaporated and despair, deep and gloomy, descended. I could remember roughly when I changed cards but I doubt whether there is any chance of finding it in the long grasses and heather that overhang the narrow rutted track that barely passes for a path.

Google Maps to the rescue - I've walked this route hundreds of times but thought it would be fun to try and pinpoint locations, especially where I thought the card may have been lost, sure enough when I returned on Monday morning I found the card sitting on top of a clump of heather. Was it worth going back to find the card ? Take a look at my Mendip Hills Landscape Gallery.

Google Map of the area around Beacon Batch

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