Caroline Shipsey

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Goodbye from the Blog

It's time to say goodbye from this blog.

Since I started it times have changed and there are so many other ways of sharing odd bits of news and photos apart from my website. I find it difficult to decide which to use G+ or occasionally 500px. So if you want to keep in touch bookmark those and my website and do keep in touch - byeeee:)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Winter Has Definitely Arrived

What a surprise when I woke up this morning to see the garden covered in snow and huge snowflakes still falling! Not great weather for driving or walking but as usual the dogs won and we walked from home to Stockhill.

The snow was still falling and the wind bitter but dogs never seems to care. I struggled for shelter from the snow so I could capture this early winter wonderland. The Beech trees are still hanging on to some of their leaves, so it was a very unusual site to have snow laden trees with their yellow and golden leaves.

 I walked for about 90 minutes and by then the snow had stopped and the skies were clearing. By about 11 am the snow was thawing and blue skies provided a beautiful backdrop to the now bright white hills. Given that at least 2 inches of snow had fallen the thaw has produced huge puddles across the roads and saturated the ground even more.

Caroline Shipsey Photography: Caroline Shipsey's Blog from the Fog &emdash;

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Farewell Swans of Wells

 Guinivere - She built a nest of silver leaves 
No.21Bishop's Palace Moat

Last night was the culmination of the Swans of Wells event with a gala dinner held in the Bishop's Palace and the auction of all the swans.
 I watched the auction on eager to see just how much money some of my favourites would sell for. Two swans in particular had won the hearts of the people of Wells - Guinivere, who has graced the moat at the entrance to the Bishops Palace, and Hot Fuzz at the Police station. Sculptor Ian Marlow created the beautiful nest of leaves for Guinivere, who symbolized the theme of the project.  The film Hot Fuzz was filmed in Wells, many locals performed as extras and familiar locations appear throughout the film.


Guinivere - She built a nest of silver leaves No.21Bishop's Palace Moat

Hot Fuzz No.23, Wells Police Station

From the Swans of Wells website:-
 Swans have been synonymous with Wells in Somerset for centuries, where resident swans patrol the stunning 13th century Bishop's Palace, which has been home to the Bishop of Bath and Wells for over 800 years.

 The swans of Wells have the unusual habit of ringing a bell by the Palace drawbridge to ask for food. This unusual spectacle started 200 years ago, when the daughter of an 19th century Bishop taught her favourite swan to ring the gatehouse bell for scraps of food, a technique that has been passed down the swan generations! 

 Swans of Wells 2012 is a major tourism initiative for Somerset, which has featured the public display of sixty, magnificently decorated, 5ft swan sculptures, one for each of the sixty years of the Queen's reign. 

 The flock was displayed in locations around Wells and the surrounding Somerset countryside for 3 months this summer, from June to September 2012. This eye-catching, high profile event brought thousands of visitors to the streets of England's smallest city and a smile to the faces of all who saw them. 

 The swans were sponsored by businesses, individuals and organisations and decorated by a team of talented artists and craftspeople from across the West Country and beyond, who transformed the impressive, avian canvasses into beautiful works of contemporary art.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mendip Ploughing Match at Yoxter

God Speed the Plough
Let the wealthy and great,
roll in splendour and state,
I envy them not I declare it

I eat my own lamb
My own chickens and ham
I shear my own fleece and I wear it

I have lawns I have bowers
I have fruits I have flowers
The lark is my early alarm

So Jolly boys now
Here’s God speed the plough
Long life and success to the farmer.
By some miracle the weather was kind to us and there wasn't too much mud to spoil proceedings.  This was the 143rd meeting of the Mendip Ploughing Society and it was well supported with almost 90 entries.  I didn't see any hedging and there were only 2 entrants in the stone walling.   Entrant in ploughing came from Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and even Wales.  The horse ploughing had just 2 entrants but as usual they attracted a great deal of admiration.   Thanks to the ladies for an excellent lunch as usual!
This is one of my favourite events in our local calendar, great for photography and meeting friends.  If you've never been to a ploughing match I thoroughly recommend it as a gentle way to enjoy a day in the countryside amongst real country folk.

Mendip Ploughing Match 2012 at Yoxter You can see more photos from the day and previous years here.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Swans of Wells - Swan Song

"Swan song" is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement.
 The Swans of Wells gave their final performance on 15th and 16th September when they were all gathered in the Bishop's Palace for a special public viewing prior to being auctioned on 29th September.
The auction will be live online, and you can bid on the Swans at this website. 

Swans of Wells in the Bishop's Palace gardens

Friday, 21 September 2012

Apology to SmugMug!

A couple of days ago I received a small package in the post from the US which, much to my surprise, had come from SmugMug.  It contained some rather nice goodies which are quite useful to me.

Also now that I've had a really good opportunity to evaluate the alternatives to SmugMug I know I wont be leaving them after all!  So I'm sorry for my previous post, I know the owners of SmugMug are real people who do care about their customers and SmugMug still is the best place to host photos on the net despite their changes to the pricing structure.

Me with my Smuggy hat!

Monday, 10 September 2012

SmugMug, I'm really pissed off with you

For 6 years I've hosted my photos with a company called SmugMug - not something that would probably interest most people who view them, after all they're just enjoying the piccies. But from January 2013 that will change because a massive price increase has been imposed on users of the Pro Account and I don't intend to pay it.

If you want to read about it you can do so here

And then watch the update video here if you can put up with all the ' we die a little inside' stuff.

I've always promoted and recommended SmugMug to everyone I know who has asked about where to host their photos but I can't do this any more. Sorry folks and Goodbye SmugMug.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sidmouth Folk Week

Overnight and early morning there was some heavy squally rain, but my early morning walk was mostly in the dry. I took photos of the sea crashing against the Prom, still red from the recent cliff falls, and in the Byes of the wildflower meadow.

Eventually played a few tunes in the Radway Inn and saw lots of familiar faces and old friends. I'm enjoying having time to be sociable and chat with people and walk the dogs properly.

I watched the traditional procession of invited dance sides at 2.30 with Mike, Jenny and Eileen, then as the tide was low walked the dogs down on the beach.

There were just too many people in the Radway when I eventually managed to get there at around 8.30 after having an evening meal with Jane and Paul, but the music was wonderful.

Another good day, nothing outstanding to report other than enjoying the festival atmosphere and relaxing.

Well the week just flew by, I walked miles played tunes, chatted with friends and relaxed, what more could I ask for:)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

When is a Dew Pond not a Dew Pond?


When it has been restored like this - what an eyesore!

A massive fence way beyond the edge of the pond, barbed wire and railway sleepers - very in keeping with an AONB!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A Perfect Day

Woke up early and saw the sun rising, mist lying on the fields.

Sheep still snoozing in the field across the road as the sun rises, The warmth must feel good now they been shorn.

Walked the dogs near Deer Leap. Saw a Roe buck grazing about 50 yards away from me, dogs oblivious to him and vice versa.

Tiny calves still sleeping, wake and scramble up for the protection of their mothers.

view from deer leap

There wasn't a cloud n the sky from sunrise to sunset and the mid afternoon was blisteringly hot. Not my kind of weather for photography but a beautiful summer's day to be enjoyed.

At dusk as I walked home from bell ringing the air was filled with the sweet smell of freshly cut fields, and hay from those cut the day before. In the distance I could hear the sound of tractors and mowing machines taking advantage of the dry weather, and the feeling of contentment with life was overwhelming.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Not So Great British Summer

This is what the summer looks like here at Priddy - dismal, day after day. Not much different to November except that is humid and relatively mild, though not remotely summery.

This photo was taken around 9am and things still looked the same at 5.30pm!

Thursday, 28 June 2012


This photo was taken on 10th June 2011 at Lanacre Bridge on Exmoor, just a few days before Dusty was stricken by whatever it was that caused her death. She was enjoying lying in the sun and having the occasional roll in the grass.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Orchids at Last

I thought we weren't going to see any this year but here there are in all their usual magnificance.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Swans of Wells - Update

The good news is that most swans now have much bigger signage asking children not to climb on them.  The bad news is that several swans have been taken in for repair, though I don't know whether this is due to damage from people or the weather, which continues to give us a soaking.

This type of arts project has happened in other cities in the UK - Gorillas in Bristol a couple of years ago and Sheep? in Bath, and if they were as successful as Swans of Wells then more places should try out this approach.  It certainly has people moving around the city as they look for the swans, takes them into places they probably would never go, and brings the names of local businesses as sponsors to our attention.

Search for the Swans of Wells by number on my site using the 'Search this site' box at the top of all pages

family on bench looking at map

Monday, 11 June 2012

Swans of Wells - Save Our Swans

Since I last wrote, my fears about damage to the Swans of Wells exhibits have sadly been realised. The vandalism that I've observed wasn't being inflicted by teenagers but by children accompanied by their parents.

After speaking to one father it seems that the attitude is one of 'Well if My kids see others climbing all over the swans, they want to do it, and why should I stop them? '
I pleaded with him that the children could damage and devalue the swans, which have been sponsored (paid for!) by local individuals and businesses, and will be auctioned for local charities. His response - the swans are 'too child friendly' and should have been mad stronger and more child resistant! Oh and that the stone plinths should have rounded edges and so less potentially dangerous to children.

children climbing on swans of wells

The most vulnerable swans are those in the Market place and around the Bishop's Palace and Moat. Unless they are protected in some way then come the summer holidays one can only imagine the extent of damage they'll suffer.

I'm so disappointed that some parents apparently believe that if something is in a public area it's fair game for using as playground equipment.

decorated swan art piece

In fairness, this child was actually being very careful!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Swans of Wells

Swans of Wells is a really great arts project that will be on the streets of Wells throughout the summer. It's colourful, fun and at the end of it in September will raise, hopefully, a huge amount of money for local charities.

All the swans have been sponsored by local businesses and individuals and imageinatively decorated by some very talented artists. I'm loving it, such fun to go around finding and photographing each one.

Both visitors and locals alike are really engaging with the spirit of the exhibition, equipped with their Trail Maps and seeking out as many as possible.

I've dedicated a gallery to my photos and this will be a project that continues throughout the summer. My plan is to record each swan and some of the detail, and then to include images of people interacting with them. It's great fun watching kids especially though they are inclined to try and climb on the swans which is to be seriously discouraged!

You can see my photos at is the website where you can find out much more about the project.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Diamond Weekend

The Jubilee celebrations are now over and despite the weather it's been a memorable four days.
It would have been amazing to be in London to see the River Pageant, Concert and the open carriage ride back to Buckingham Palace, along with about a million other people. TV coverage has been superb though, and thoroughly recreated the wonderful atmosphere for us at home.

This was my third Jubilee - in 1977 I remember going to Pen Hill when the beacon was lit. there were hundreds of people there and we sang Rule Britania and Land of Hope and Glory.

In 2002 I was living on Skye, saw the Queen when she came to Portree and cried buckets while watching the TV coverage - I was so homesick!

2012 - Wow! I just wanted to soak up every bit of the pageantry, music, colour, history - it has been a brilliant celebration that even pouring rain couldn't spoil. Our Queen has reigned for 60 years and at 86 is an amazing lady. She has such a beautiful smile and looks so smart and elegant, it's difficult not to feel affection and respect for her.

It's been a really great weekend that I'll remember for a long, long time.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Jubilee Celebrations and Priddy Friendly Society Club Day

Priddy Friendly Society celebrated it's 2012 Club Day today,combining it with the village Jubilee celebrations instead of as usual on Bank Holiday Monday.

Roll call took place outside the New Inn but I was at church bell ringing especially for the service that is part of the tradition. Usually this would be followed by a super lunch in the village hall but this year the whole village was invited to picnic on the Green. A Picnic for one isn't much fun and I would have much prefered lunch prepared by the ladies who normally do such a fantastic spread, so I hope this doesn't become the normal arrangement.

Despite the usual Mendip weather - rain, mist, more rain etc, there was a good turnout and a happy atmosphere prevailed through heavier showers alternating with occasional dry spells. Fred Payne organised the children and adult sports and Mike oversaw the tug of war. All events were well supported and nothing dampened the competitive spirits!

Cam Valley Morris dancers had to wait quite a while for their chance to perform while the first of 2 bands were doing their sound checks. Eventually the hog roast was ready so I grabbed my supper and headed for home in the pouring rain.

As usual I took photos to record my memories of the day. Thanks to all who worked hard to make it an enjoyable day.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bessie - One Year On

It was on a beautiful sunny day, just like today, exactly a year ago, that I said goodbye to my dear sweet Bessie.

She stepped into the gap left by Fly and became the best companion I could have hoped for - my soul mate, my travelling companion, my photography buddy. Her comical expression, the look she would give me that said 'What now Mum?', where are we going? Despite her age she still had enthusiasm for life. Putting on my knickers or socks was always enough to get her bouncing and wiggling with enthusiasm for the first walk of the day. At least now I can think of her and smile even though I'll always be sad she's not here with me.

My life was blessed for almost 17 years by two collies from Exmoor, sisters, a litter apart - Fly and Bessie. Miss you both so much, especially Bessie today, you'll be in my heart forever.

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.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Exmoor in Springtime

This is where I feel really at home, my heart and soul belong here.  Even though I'm just spending a couple of days here I don't feel like a visitor.

A perfect day or two - the perfect time of spring, leaves on the beech trees and hedges still pale and delicate, fluttering in a light wind. The oaks still not in leaf, their tops that distinctive yellowy colour.

Place names bring back so many memories - Tippacott, Shilstone, Halslake, Brendon Barton, Robber's Bridge  - every road sign and footpath finger post has a name on it with an image or emotions attached. The years spent in this area were absolutely the best of my life and coming back revives all those good feelings.  I love being familiar with places.  Seeing orchids growing in the roadside banks of the A39 between Minehead and Porlock just as they were the first time I came here in spring, it's comforting.   Hard to believe it's 20 years since Images of Exmoor was published - we packed so much into our time down here, getting the pics for the books and building a life, making friends, having fun, playing music, Tim singing, walking, lambing.

Went to camping  field at Leeford, much changed, a proper track, fencing and toilets.  Stayed there a while enjoying the peace and warm sun, sound of river etc.  There are still primroses in the banks, bluebells under the trees in the woods, even here beside the river.

I can hear people talking on a footpath across the river, a pheasant, sheep and lambs.  This is heaven for me, seeing sheep grazing in a field with buttercups, their lambs basking in the warm sunshine.  Narrow lanes with high banks full of wild flowers as the road winds between Oare and Robber's Bridge, bluebells, campion, stitchwort, buttercups.  

Not intentional but found myself places Bessie  and I had gone together after Fly died, made me sad, she was such a brilliant companion. 

Watched the dawn break and sun rise this morning but it was disappointing as thick cloud, misty stuff prevented it from lighting up the view.  Decided to move on across the moor and see if things improved.  Lots of deer on moorland approaching Chetsford, then at Hillhead Cross highland cattle and Exmoor ponies.

Stopped in the gravel lay by near Chetsford reservoir and walked down to the water, again revisiting places, this time Annie and Minor's pool where I put their ashes - lovely thoughts and memories of happy days.  Annie had her last walk down here.   Not intentional but found myself places Bessie  and I had gone together too after Fly died, made me sad, she was such a brilliant companion, they both were.

Back to A39 via West Luccombe to photograph the orchids in the roadside banks.  It's still quite grey and murky so no good for taking landscapes which is a shame,  too much haze, heading for home

I don't need to live here, although that would be ideal, I'm lucky to have the van and it's close enough to come every week just like we used to, if I want. Don't be sad,  I still have friends here.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Renewed Faith

What a difference a phone call can make!

 More and more often I find myself wondering what the point of my photography is as the number, variety and quality of photos taken and shared over the internet increases exponentially by the hour. After all, I don't visit foreign countries, climb mountains or stalk wild animals, so what do I have to offer that is of interest to anyone other than me?

 Out of the blue comes a phone call from someone who really 'gets' what I'm doing with my photography. They feel the emotions that I do or did when taking the photograph. They can relate to me and my images, and want to use some of them on their website. Suddenly it all becomes worthwhile again. I don't mean from the financial point of view although obviously that helps too, but to feel that the images are valued gives me a wonderful warm glow inside.

With our dismal weather lately there's been little to inspire me to get out with the camera, though I take it with me sometimes when walking the dogs. Even today while stomping around in muddy boots with equally muddy dogs, I feel the inclination to take it with me and seek out something..........

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Primrose Day

This would have been the 70 something anniversary of my parents marriage - they did see 60 years together and then Dad died a couple of weeks later, but still it was quite a landmark.

Mum always used to say that the date of their marriage was Primrose Day and I always believed it was simply because this beautiful spring flower was always in bloom at this time of year.

Primrose Day began in England on April 19, 1881
when Benjamin Disreaeli died. Queen Victoria sent primroses to be placed on his coffin. England's Primrose Day sprang from this simple gesture.

The weather here for the past week has been miserable, not a bit spring-like, with heavy rain and hail which has battered most of the primroses in the garden and growing wild. Such a shame because they were particularly beautiful this year.


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spring came this week

In the UK 1st March is St David's day - the feast day of David, ther patron saint of Wales who died on this day in 589. Celebration and parades are held in many places throughout Wales as has been the custom for centuries. The daffodil is the flower of Wales so many people wear them on their lapels on St David's day.

The weather this week has been much like spring except that every morning has started with thick fog! It really feels like the gloom of this winter is being chased away by the sunshine, and spring flowers will be bursting forth. So far there are plenty of snowdrops in the garden but not much else as it's still quite chilly up here on the hill.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Winter at last!

The weather has finally turned into winter, below freezing throughout the day and an east wind to make it feel even colder. We had some snow on Monday and although it's mostly gone the freezing temperatures has kept it on some tree and in places sheltered from the sun.

It's so long since I've written here, it feels very strange because so much has happened and I've not had the inclination to record any of it. The gloomy weather has been particularly depressing this winter and the ground is so muddy everywhere I walk which doesn't make dog walking much fun or photography. This is my favourite kind of winter weather even though it's currently -6° centigrade - brrrrrgh!