Caroline Shipsey

Monday, 30 May 2011

Priddy Friendly Society Club Day

A typically 'Mendip' day - a 'Blog From The Fog' day - rain and misty/fog!
Undaunted though, a good crowd gathered at the New Inn for Roll Call and then made their way to church. Hopefully the weather will improve this afternoon for the children's games etc.

Priddy Friendly Society was established in 1883 for the benefit of the community, many of whom were agricultural workers. There are only 4 or 5 remaining in the country and 2 of these are on the Mendips. It is controlled by a committee elected annually 2 weeks after Club Day.

Photos from last year's Club Day.

Priddy Friendly Society 'processing' from Roll Call at the New Inn to church followed by lunch in the village hall.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Goodbye Bessie 27th May

Friday was such a sad day, it was obvious that it was time to say goodbye to my dear, sweet Bessie. Old age finally caught up with her and life was just too hard.

It all ended very peacefully in the garden with us all there and the sun shining - couldn't have been better. David, my vet came specially to do this even though he was on holiday really. Quick, kind, gentle, hugs, tears.

Bessie's Diary - her last few months in photos.

22nd March - This was taken about 3 years ago, and I'm including it because I don't want to dwell completely on what is happening now.Bessie loves to make 'nests' outside to sleep in and can hide herself away completely, not responding to any amount of calling!  This was taken on the towpath of the Kennet and Avon canal. She looks so serene to me, and so pretty.Notice her ears, how softly turned over they are now?  Since she has become almost totally deaf they never lie like this anymore - as though she is always straining to hear just a little sound.

Sleeping in the garden in a favourite place waiting for David to come - peaceful and comfortable, her last photo.

27th MarchI ran ahead to try again for a shot of them side by side but Dusty was distracted by the number of dead frogs on the path - Yuk!

24th MarchAll together in the Forestry, a beautiful spring morning perfect for walking dogs.  Bessie had a nasty upset tummy - severe diarrhea, thankfully it happened outside!  I was going to rest her today because of this but she had other ideas and so did Dusty. We  walked in the woods at Masbury at around 3 o'clock and then again in Harptree Woods at about 5pm.  Both her and Dusty asked to come on the last walk so why not?  I'd rather have a knackered but happy dog on her last legs through doing doggy things than a sad, miserable one.The biggest surprise of all came at suppertime, she came into the kitchen looking  at me with the expression that used to say 'I'm hungry', but hasn't of late, so I gave her some Hills AD, and more, then more again.  She ate a whole tin - 150gm from her bowl! It's the first time she's eaten from her bowl in weeks.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Blagdon Village Fete

What better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon than at a good old fashioned village fete!

The setting was idyllic - the garden of Mary Mead overlooking Blagdon Lake. There were all the things one would expect to find - a bottle stall, plants, cakes and preserves, White Elephant! Oh what memories this brings back of my childhood. The White Elephant stall was always a mystery to me as a child!

Blagdon Village Fete 21st May 2011 - relaxing in the garden of Blagdon Court, overlooking Blagdon Lake.

In addition to afternoon teas with homemade cakes there was Yeo Valley ice cream AND hot Yeo Valley organic beef, so tender and succulent it really did almost melt in my mouth.

There was Maypole dancing by the children from the village school, while others
were queuing to have their photo taken with Ted the Owl from the world famous Yeo Valley Rap, which has now received over 1.8 million views on YouTube.

Blagdon Village Fete, 21st may 2011 -  School children Maypole dancing.

It's 11 years since I left Blagdon and there were many faces I recognized. 20 years of my life was spent in the village and I was so sorry to leave but it felt very comfortable to slip back in for an hour or so, and just a little sad not to be part of such a great village community.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Hawthorn Blossom

I absolutely love this phase of spring when Cow's Parsley is growing tall on the verges and Hawthorn blossom is flowering on hedges accompanying them, giving the hedgerows a dusting of white.

Looking back through my photos it seems that every year I can't resist making yet another image of the creamy white flowers, and so it is this year too. However, in my garden I have a beautiful red version of the Hawthorn called 'Paul Scarlett' which grows as a standard tree. So by way of a change here is the blossom and the tree!

'Paul Scarlett' Hawthorn from my garden - wonderful splash of vibrant colour amongst the greens.

It's interesting how much more subtle the colour of the flowers look when viewed on the tree from even a short distance as compared to the photo above of the blossom close up.

The tree 'Paul Scarlett' Hawthorn from my garden - wonderful splash of vibrant colour amongst the greens.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Photography Trip to Wales - Steve Lewis Workshop Day 2

Making the most of every possible opportunity, and being prepared for the unexpected is what makes photography so enjoyable. If I set off on a trip with just one objective in mind the chances are I'll be foiled - the most likely reason being the weather! However, it's not just about making photos, it's the whole experience that really matters.

Clee Hill Summit (Titterstone Clee) in Shropshire has drawn me every time I travel to Snowdonia, dominating the distant skyline for miles. This trip, despite the light being poor for any kind of landscape photography, I decided to take a look.

This is Wikipedia's description of the place:- Titterstone Clee is the third-highest hill in Shropshire, beaten only by the nearby Brown Clee Hill (540 m) and Stiperstones (536 m). Much of the higher part of the hill is common land, used for the grazing of sheep, air traffic control services and working or disused quarries. The summit of Titterstone Clee is bleak, treeless and shaped by decades of quarrying. Many of the structures still remain, and lend to the ghostly atmosphere of the hill top, especially during the prolonged winter fogs that descend over the hills.

The weather on Titterstone Clee Hill can be particularly hazardous, with locally infamous fog and drizzle being commonplace. Snow can also cause problems in winter, as well as gales.

Most of the summit of the hill is effectively man-made, the result of years of quarrying dhustone (dolerite) to be used in road-building. Also, many derelict quarry buildings are scattered over the hill, now used only by sheep sheltering from the worst of weather. Combined, these give the summit of the hill an eerie, other worldly feel.

I hadn't read this before my visit but it is absolutely spot on! Sudden bouts of driving rain and a howling gale made it difficult to stand at times and almost impossible to use a camera. It is a very spooky place - bleak and mostly unattractive - the potential for the view though is what will draw me back there I'm sure.

Well worth making the effort to investigate but need to re-visit!

Cwm Pennant - ultimately reached by a long lane through several farm gates that require both opening and cash! The attraction to this place was the possibility of
bluebells clothing the side of the valley!

From Ephotozine:-Cwm Pennant has often been called "The most beautiful Valley in Wales". (Cwm means valley in Welsh) It is a narrow valley bordered on three sides by the mountains of the Nantlle Ridge, Y Garn, Mynydd Tal Y Mignedd, Moel Lefn and is situated south west of the main Snowdon range of mountains.

The valley was home to slate workings in the late 19th century employing up to 200 workers. The slate was quarried, brought to be dressed and then shipped off in trams down the valley to its destination.

The valley is mainly used for farming nowadays with farming stock indiginous to the area - Welsh Black cattle and Welsh Mountain, Welsh Mule and Lleyn sheep.
Welsh poppies grow wild here and there is a magnificent abundance of bluebells adorning the valley sides in the spring, giving breathtaking views and a wonderful aroma.

Unfortunately neither the bluebells nor the weather obliged. It was a dull day with the occasional hint of decent light, but almost too fleeting. And the bluebells? Perhaps I've been spoilt by our lush woodlands but these were stumpy little things, perhaps grazed off by the sheep, and maybe I was a week or so too early with my visit!

Obviously a beautiful location but again need to revisit, although the window of opportunity for seeing bluebells in their prime, and having good light for photography is pretty narrow.

I spent the night on the edge of Llyn Gwynant on the campsite, it's a stunning location and on this occasion was very quiet - thoroughly recommended, though it can get very busy.

The weather on the day of the workshop with Steve Lewis started well enough but by the time we had walked up the Watkin Pass to the waterfall at Cwm Llan the rain came.
It poured for almost an hour and though spirits were good in the group it was disappointing not to be able to even consider getting the camera out!

There was a short break of about an hour when we all got busy before returning to Caffi Gwynant (Gwynant Café) located near the base of the Watkin Path up Snowdon and a welcome cup of tea.

Our final location for the day was Llyn Dywarchen, a small lake with an island and some ruined cottages, and two small hills which offer unfamiliar views towards Snowdon. This was a pleasant enough location, and I've seem many stunning photos but again the light was not in our favour. I did climb one of the hills overlooking the lake which definitely gave a much better perspective and was well worth the climb but didn't manage to get the 'Aaaah' photo I'd hoped for here!

Having lived for a large portion of my life adjacent to and overlooking Blagdon Lake, seeing it at every time of the day, in all moods and seasons it takes a lot to impress me where lakes are concerned!

This kind of trip isn't just about getting good photos though, the friendship and camaraderie is what makes the day too.

Photos to follow...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Holt Farm Organic Garden

The Garden at Holt Farm opened to the public for the first time this year on 25th April, a beautiful warm, sunny day. It was ideal for wandering around amongst the five acres of contemporary organic garden where everything from the cakes and scones in the tea rooms through to the potting compost is home made.

Several years have passed since I last visited but I knew I wouldn't be disappointed, either as a closet gardener or photographer. On this occasion however, it was difficult to do justice with the camera as a cloudless sky and brilliant sunshine overhead isn't the photographers friend.

The Perennial Meadow, full of deep blue camassias with the Tea Crab Avenue at the far end made a stunning entrance to the rest of the garden, though there is no specifically defined 'route' to follow.

The Annual Meadow is re-sown each year and was just bare but later will be a delight full of annual flowers including poppies, cornflower and toadflax.

The Bronze Garden is a formal area with a pool reflecting the unusual colours of the planting, while the Gravel Garden is a patchwork of lilac, pink and blue. The Tea Rooms overlook the ornamental Veggie Garden which will be a delight later in the year as the plants mature.

I can't wait to return in a few weeks, hopefully at a time of day more suited to photography when the light is a little kinder.

The garden is open every Thursday from May until September from 10am-5pm with an admission charge of £4. For further info visit The Organic Gardens.

I now have a gallery with more photos of The Organic Gardens at Holt Farm which will be a work in progress for the next 12 months.

Holt Farm Organic Garden.  The Tea Crab Avenue - it only takes a strong wind to blow for a while and all this delicate beauty is gone.