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Blue Monday: Ghost Of The Machine

Ghost Of The Machine

Ghost Of The Machine

An underwater apparition from the flooded quarry at the National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC). Simon and I went up to the centre, near Chepstow, on Saturday to get in a couple of freshwater dives. This British Aerospace Jetstream 200 has been one of the attractions at the site since 2006 and can be found at the north end of the quarry, at a depth of eleven metres. Visibility is usually better than the five metres, or so, that we had this weekend. I rather enjoyed seeing the various wrecks appear, like ghosts, from the gloom ahead of us though. Taken using the Olympus Tough TG4, this image is my entry for Wex Mondays this week. Good luck to everyone taking part!

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Watch The Birdies!

Green and Gold

Watch The Birdies!

For me it’s one of the best tonics ever, watching the birds. It was my one request to my long-suffering hubby at the end of the weekend, as I started to feel a bit better following a nasty infection. Take me out to watch the birds. I still didn’t feel up to doing much more than sitting quietly in the birdhide, watching and listening to my feathered friends. Simon’s not quite as obsessed with birds (I think it bores him unless it’s birds of prey!) as I am so this was such a sweet gesture from him! There was only a fleeting visit by a couple of parakeets. They’re enjoying the sweet chestnut trees so much at the moment I don’t think they can be bothered with the feeders near the hide! There were lots of blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and dunnocks. I was really pleased to see the nuthatch and a pair of coal tits too. Several robins were feeding on the ground beneath the feeders and I caught sight of a couple of wrens in the undergrowth, moving far too fast to photograph! I’m putting the parakeet into Wex Mondays this week as I loved the glow of the late sun against the still-green leaves and the greens of the parakeet itself. It was uplifting!

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Blue Monday: Fruitful

Blue Tit and Bountiful Berries (Cornus kousa var. chinensis)

Blue Monday: Fruitful

My offering for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge is an image taken on a short but fruitful visit to RHS Wisley Gardens last week. I only had about an hour and a half before closing time but I had really needed a bit of time-out! It was perfect. Sunshine, song birds and solitude. Well it was quiet enough that the only other person I came into contact with was another local visitor, and keen photographer, also enjoying the tranquility. After the warm and sunny Spring this year the fruiting trees are absolutely laden with produce! Much of this will be food for the Wisley wildlife as we head into the winter months. There’s a well stocked larder waiting for the migrating birds that will soon be heading our way. For now, our garden birds are having a fabulous feast all to themselves! I love this particular Dogwood (Cornus kousa var. chinensis) that can be found at the bottom of the rose garden near Weather Hill Cottage. Covered in white flowers in Spring and these fabulous red and orange fruits in Autumn. There are a number of these dogwoods around these parts of the garden but this one in particular is always spectacular. I spotted quite a number of blue tits flitting in and out of the small tree. I then spent a rather glorious half an hour sat near the tree, watching the birds going to and fro, the tree seeming to quake as they busied themselves under the dense foliage. Occasionally one would pop out between leaves to feed on one the visible fruits allowing me to get just a few photos. They were so fixated on feeding that they seemed to forget about my silent presence after a while. I had birds flying so close that I could feel the wind from their wing-beats around my head! Much of the time I just kept still, leaving the camera be and enjoying the precious time with nature. Today’s image is one of only a few taken while I was there. You’ll just have to pay the gardens a visit, while there’s still fruit on the trees, to experience this encounter with nature for yourselves!

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The Imposing Facade

St Paul's Cathedral

The Imposing Facade

I get very used to seeing images of St Paul’s Cathedral from the river, showing the famous dome. It’s truly iconic! There’s so much more to see around this incredible building. This is the facade from the front entrance. I have memories of standing here as a child, beneath the statue of the stern monarch, feeling very small and intimidated. I wanted to try to recreate that feeling of awe within this image. I crouched at child-height beneath the monument to capture the shot and then turned a bright, blue-sky day into a dark monochrome. This is my choice for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. I’ll have a few more scenes from St Paul’s to share soon that show a few more unusual views of this London landmark.

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Autumnal Richness

Pheasant

Autumnal Richness

Late afternoon sun, glowing through the trees and highlighting a foraging pheasant. This scene last week typified so much of what I love most about Autumn; golden sunlight, warm colours and wildlife stocking-up on food ahead of the Winter months. Late at RHS Wisley Gardens and I think I was the last visitor to leave; actually, I admit it, I know I was the last one there as I would have been completely locked in if Christina hadn’t still been working in the membership offices! I love being in the grounds when it’s quiet. Even more wildlife appears! It’s magical. I thought that I would share this captivating scene for the Wex Mondays challenge this week.

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Blue Monday: Simply Beautiful

The White Door

Blue Monday: Simply Beautiful

A bit of horticultural minimalism for Blue Monday and this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. I shot this image of agapanthus and nerines at the RHS Wisley Flower Show last week. The clean lines and soft tones of pastel-blues within the planting, set against the small garden shed, really drew me into the display from the Hoyland Plant Centre. They are the holders of The National Plant Collection for agapanthus , tulbaghia and nerines. This small and understated display showed what excellent growers they are and drew many visitors eyes away from some of the more vibrant and complex show gardens. I’ve tried to capture the essence of their garden in my composition. In short, it was Simply Beautiful!

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There’s Light At The End Of The Universe

Cosmos

There’s Light At The End Of The Universe

Please excuse my play on words here! For anyone still in the dark, this flower is called Cosmos. I caught sight of it lifted by the breeze into this natural frame, glowing in the sunlight, a brief moment in time captured for posterity on camera. I live for these beautiful moments, these simple pleasures. How often have you heard the old saying “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”? For me, far too often and usually when the tunnel I’m in has no map and branches into an infinite number of other tunnels! Well, most tunnels have vents. They let in the air and the light. That’s what this flower and the title represent to me, a pause in the daily struggles of life, enabling me to breathe fresh air and soak in the sun. For that limited span, I can be as carefree as the flower, just drifting in the breeze. Time stretches when I’m caught in such moments. I don’t even have to think anymore! Quite a relief really. I often think far too much about far too many things. So I think I will share my moment in time with everyone for the Wex Mondays challenge. It seems most fitting! Good Luck everyone and thank goodness for nature, art and the starlight that made us all!

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Bee On Astrantia

Bee On Astrantia

Bee On Astrantia

The astrantia at RHS Wisley Gardens are a late-summer haven for bees, hoverflies and other insects. We’ve just had the hottest August Bank Holiday on record (so the forecasters believe!) and these wonderful flowers were alive with bees. A real joy to see. I’m posting this for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Angels Above Me

Tern Triptych

Angels Above Me

I have been watching these beautiful terns at Thorpe Lake, where I do my open water swimming, from the shore and from the waters, wanting to capture their beauty and elegance in flight. I decided that the best way to achieve my goals was to take my toughened Olympus out swimming with me! This pair are nesting on one of the pontoons that divides areas of the lakes. Over the last few weeks I have seen them take to the air whenever a swimmer, or the other lake residents, come anywhere close to the pontoon. I have absolutely reveled in these aerial acrobatics, performed right above me as I glide through the waters. A couple of times I have turned onto my back and floated, gazing up at these angels. To capture these images last week I trod water for a while so that I could turn more easily and track their flight with both hands on the camera. I can’t tread water for long without using up all my energy, so it actually helped that terns fly fast and low! I ended up with three images, that had both male and female in the frame, and just couldn’t pick a favourite to enter into this week’s Wex Mondays challenge, so I created a tern triptych. I will post all three of the images for you to check out individually. Perhaps you will have a favourite?

Common Terns in flightCommon Terns in flightCommon Terns in flight

I’m also posting this as part of the WPC: Ooh, Shiny! Pretty much anything with wings distracts me, as those of you who follow my work, or come out on photography trips with me, know already 😉

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Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

Cottage Garden at RHS Wisley Gardens

Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

It took time and patience, with all the visitors to RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, to get the four images I needed to create this stitched panorama of The Cottage Garden. This is my favourite time of year in these gardens, which are almost overflowing with soft grasses and flowers. It’s a haven for bees, butterflies, birds and visitors alike. I love the view as you enter through the arches, looking across the water feature and through to the rose garden on the other side. It’s such a warm and welcoming design! The blue skies and a brief return to warmer, summer weather completed this quintessentially English country-garden scene. I’m posting this for the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges this week as well as Blue Monday. I hope it brings you all a bit of sunshine wherever you are in the world!