Well I didn't really get to wear the sunglasses, but we did manage to get out and about for a bit. So we made the most of our National Trust membership and headed off to Cherryburn in the Tyne Valley.
Cherryburn is the birthplace of Thomas Bewick who was a famous Wood Engraver and ornithologist. The latter of which was the reason for our visit today as they had some feathered visitors.
For those that know me reasonably well, I love birds of prey, but am quite in awe of them. I've had the opportunity to handle them on quite a few occasions but always passed up the opportunity, pretty much because the whole power to weight ratio thing kind of freaks me out.
That said I wasn't going to let this 'fear' stop my daughter from getting the chance to handle such wonderful creatures.
At first she wasn't sure, but then she stated she would like to hold the Barn Owl, but there was a queue for that so instead she chose Rambo, a European Eagle Owl, the biggest and baddest (not really apparently he is the friendliest of the bunch) bird on show! Rambo quickly became her favourite and we now have a little girl who wants a bird of prey handling party for her birthday!
Erin got to handle all of the birds on show including 2 Harris Hawks, but she always wanted to go back and handle Rambo again.
So thats been our Bank Holiday Monday, I'm off out to enjoy a meal with the lovely people from work, hope you've all had a decent bank holiday too.
So I was just going to take 2 pics tomorrow and lie. But I don't want to do that. So this is very last minute, but essentially I've been at work the last 2 days and I'm off tomorrow and really really hoping I'll need these tomorrow!
Its nearly blinking June and yet we still seem to be stuck in the middle of a winter storm.
The Bank Holiday at the end of May is supposed to be about getting out in the sunshine, finding a beer garden, enjoying some cider and getting together with friends.
At this rate its going to be about hot chocolate in front of an open fire watching Elf.
I had a very enjoyable lunch date with 2 friends today (who both behaved like 12 year olds) and then on the way home headed down to the coast to see if I could again capture the illusive high wave crashing against the lighthouse shot. I wasn't the only one mad enough to be down there, and my kit took a bit of a soaking from the Sea, but it was fun none the less.
I shot a video hoping that you would be able to hear the power of the sea, but unfortunately all you can really here is the wind blustering into the microphone.
I've always found photographing birds quite difficult, for one they move quite fast and for two it is a nightmare to meter them against the bright blue sky.
With today's image I've had to edit it quite a lot to bring the bird out, but I'm reasonably happy with the result, at low resolution anyway.
I believe this is a common gull, but I'm sure Mr King will be quick to correct me if I am wrong.
So why a picture of a gull when I could be writing a blog about whats going on in the world right now?
There is so much hatred and craziness going on right now, I'd prefer to just take stock and take some pleasure in the simple things in life, watching gulls glide on the updrafts, watching the small birds have a snack on the feeding station in the garden, or even just chilling with a cuppa watching some TV (not the news channels, I've had enough of that for now). So thats just what I'm going to do.
My only comment on what has been going on is a quote from Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit Priest, who said 'The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens'
I've always enjoyed macro, or close up photography but never really had a proper macro lens, so make do with extension tubes, which generally lead to an extremely narrow depth of field. However I still like to dabble and always look out for possibly interesting things to snap.
I am currently without a lawnmower so my front lawn resembles a bit of a jungle, apparently good for wildlife but not good for neighbour relations. However until Friday there is no hope of me getting a lawnmower so relations will just need to stay strained for now.
I know that Dandelions, while not really being weeds, are frowned upon by people who like things a certain way, however I don't mind them. Just as well as the garden is littered with them.
So whilst they are so plentiful, and before I chop them down in their prime....
It's been a funny old day. I've been just as busy as any other day at work, but I don't feel like I have as my numbers weren't as good. If anything I've probably done more work today than I did yesterday but on paper I did about half the work today that I did yesterday. All of which makes me feel a bit crap.
Today has been a very strange day, after the craziness of the weekend today has been quite sedentary but at the same time I've still really struggled to find time to take a picture or even think about taking a picture.
Its difficult because I don't want to cheat and I don't want to post any absolute rubbish (shut it Michael Dunn), but I really don't feel like taking a picture. I could post the only picture I have snapped so far today, which is of the gas meter so I could enter the meter reading after leaving a hot tap dribbling all day, which has only served to increase the level of my mood greatly.
Even typing this I have no idea what I am going to post a picture of, I'm secretly hoping for some divine inspiration, but there is nothing coming to me at all.
About 5 minutes have passed and I am still no closer to posting a picture.
Things I have learned today. Ormesby Hall isn't open until 1:30 pm, I can get away with parking in National Trust staff car parks, OK Diner is as its name suggests OK, my walking shoes are still really comfortable, and no matter how impartial I try to be I will pretty much always fail.
After being away for 14 hours yesterday we decided to have a family day. However today was also the last day of the Womens National League North season. And the Whitley Bay Squaws and Billingham Wildcats were to battle it out for the league, with Billingham needing to win by 3 goals to pip Whitley to the league title. So with a trip to Billingham in mind we looked for a National trust property in the area and set out for a few hours at Ormesby Hall, which until 1984 was still inhabited by the Pennyman family. Unfortunately upon arrival at 12 we found out the property wasn't open for another 90 minutes, so we snuck in the delivery entrance, parked the car in staff car park and set about having a little walk around the property. By the time we had walked around the edge of the estate the house was open and we set about exploring the house. In all honesty it was pretty dull, but was made to be more fun by way of a kids quiz that Erin was given to complete. All of the volunteers were very helpful and between them and quiz it made for a really enjoyable afternoon. Whilst Erin and Christine nipped off to the ladies to powder their noses I had a walk down into the gardens and sat listening to the birds watching the blossom fall from the tree, I have to admit I could have sat there for hours. Anyway, this is Ormesby Hall from the Croquet Lawn.
From there we went onto the OK Diner for some food, which was nice, but not very good value for money, and the service was abysmal. So off to the rink for the game. The game was all set up to be a classic, with it being the last game of the season, and the league being up for grabs. Add into the mix that with Ice Hockey being a relatively minority sport in the UK a lot of the players know each other, and the North East Dekstars ball hockey club had representatives on both sides, some of whom just 24 hours earlier trained together as part of the Team GB Ball hockey team. A niggly game resulted in Billingham leading the game 2-1 heading into the third period needing another 2 goals to take the league (assuming Whitley would not score again) but Whitley who had not been able to get into their stride due to some very good play by Billingham for the first 2 periods picked up their game and maintained their unbeaten streak (over 2 years in the league) taking the game 5-3 in the end.
The moment of the game for me was when North East Dekstar / Team GB Ball Hockey / Whitley Bay Squaw Sarah 'Monkey' Smith scored a goal early in the third period to tie the game. Sarah at my request dedicated the goal to my daughter who has always enjoyed shouting encouragement at every game she has been to. So with that in mind we have a second photo of the day....
So all in all its been a bit of a mental weekend, but to be honest I'm not sure I'd have it any other way.
Today saw me travel down to Sheffield again to spend the day with the Team GB ball hockey team in their final training session before the fly out to Canada in under 2 weeks time.
I was down to take accreditation / headshots and some team shots. Today's blog is about 1 of those people getting ready to represent their country on the world stage.
Ali Cree is one of those people that comes along once in your life, and you wonder how you ever really got by without him in it. His passion for the sport of Ball Hockey is in my opinion, unparalleled. There is nothing he will not do (well I've yet to find anything) to further the sport, often at his own detriment.
Lets take today as an example. I picked Ali up this morning at 6am, which was tough for me, but I got to bed at 10pm last night, Ali didn't get in from work until 4am, this after spending over 12 hours yesterday chasing up some last bits and bobs for the guys and gals of Team GB. He does this not for himself, or so that people like him, he does it because he see's it as his responsibility.
Despite the lack of sleep in the last 24 hours (something which is not rare for Ali), he was on top form in the car, the 2 and a half hour journey disappearing in a flash. Every time we get together the conversation just flows, and we generally end up at some point laughing like schoolgirls.
Ali has this effect on most people, he's at his best when he is just being himself. He'll always take a moment out of his day to try and make other people smile, be it with a bit of silliness, or just taking some time to listen to them. Don't get me wrong, he's not some sort of perfect human being, he can be a pain in the arse, and sometimes trying to get a hold of him can be like trying to find Lord Lucan, but once again this is usually because he is doing something for one of his customers (at Jersey 53) or just something for someone else.
Ali has been at the centre of making the North East Dekstars the force that they are, and is now preparing to represent his country for a third time in 5 years. During that time he has worn many hats, Coach, Chairman, Supplier, Sponsor, Manager, Kit Boy but most important to me, Friend.
So best of luck to all of the guys and gals in their quest for glory in Canada, but to me you are all already winners, you are representing your country and you are getting to spend a week with an amazing person. Make sure you give him a hug from me, because sometimes its not always easy being the one who is there for everyone else.
Today is a sick day, for the child, which means I have taken a days holiday to look after her, which in turn means that by 11am I was pretty much ready to punch myself repeatedly in the face.
However instead what I have done is tried my hand at a multiple exposure image, and what better subject than the cause of my headache....
As you can tell, she isn't that sick, but this hopefully gets across how I feel today! I'd rather be at work!
Anyway, must dash this terrible kids TV show isn't going to watch itself! If you haven't heard from me in 48 hours send someone to check I'm ok!
Another day lacking in inspiration. So I got to thinking, this is supposed to be a blog about pictures, and what do you take pictures with? So I got out my old Kodak Instamatic, from a time when things were simpler... or more honestly, just different. Yes the mechanics of the camera were far simpler, no megapixels to worry about here, but you still had the whole development issue, and remember with film, you were stuck with one ISO for 24 or 36 shots unless you wanted to waste film.
For anyone thats interested, the camera in the shot is a Kodak Instamatic 77x, which was released in my year of birth, had a fixed f11 lens, and a fixed shutter speed of 1/50th of a second. In other words, your lighting had to be perfect, as you weren't going to adjust anything with the actual camera, you could use 'magicubes' to help you, but even then they were a 4 shot deal per cube, so even so called cheap photography could get expensive quickly.
Anyway enough rambling from me, this shot is pretty much as it came out the camera, thanks to the 7D's wireless flash firing system...
So thats 135 down and only 230 to go, hope you are enjoying my 'adventure' more than I am! ;)
Another day out on the golf course for me, this time at stocksfield which is a well kept course in south Northumberland right on the tyne valley. It's quite a short course with only one par 5 (which I parred) and 4 par 3's for a par of 69. I went round in 87 and only lost one ball.
The one thing that mystified me is how 15 of the holes play uphill with only 3 playing downhill. Or at least that's how it felt. My worst hole of the day was the 16th as I was knackered and it played long into the wind and uphill. That said I still managed to escape with a 7 and then finished the round with 2 pars, hitting both greens in regulation including a sublime 6 iron from 180 yards into the 17th green which was left about 9 foot from the hole. Unfortunately a tricky downhill putt meant I missed my birdie opportunity and plodded onto the 18th tee.
Still I. Each of my last 2 rounds I have managed 7 pars and today I managed to not have any melt downs!
I love golf me and I also love www.teeofftimes.co.uk for making golf more affordable.
I was again really struggling today to find something to photograph. Believe it or not I do try to make each photo individual, and worthwhile viewing. I'll admit some are not really worth it and others are are just utter rubbish. But I do try, I promise.
Unfortunately life really has a way of getting in the way of really bringing the sort of images I wish I could to you, but I will keep striving. I'm over a third of the way through now, and I will once again be honest and say it is becoming a battle of attrition rather than a labour of love. But I will keep going.
So on the way home from work I was feeling a little flat, when i looked over to my left and saw this scene unfurling before me, and I'm sorry Darren but its another sky shot.
Graveyards have always fascinated me, they are naturally very tranquil, but I have no great desire to end up in one permanently in the near future.
I'm quite old fashioned when it comes to graveyards, taking particular care to not stand on the graves, strange really as I'm sure the people down there don't really mind, but I do it none the less. I guess its the same as I always take my cap off if there is a hearse passing, or turn my music off for the same reason. Part of possibly harks back to my grandfathers funeral (the first one I attended) whereby it was a very traditional affair, and I still remember as we followed the hearse an elderly gentleman removed his cap, and stood very still. I remember asking my mother and father later on why he had done this as it stuck in my mind, and its something I have continued to do first.
There is a lot we can learn from our forefathers, and some traditions in my eyes are good to keep alive.
I'd be interested to hear what sort of little quirks my readers have... please feel free to get in touch.
We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare, well when it comes to golf, Lee Oakley is the tortoise. Which would be fine, if he was an amazing player. But he's not. To give credit where it's due, he is getting better, and quicker too. But when I saw this sign, I had to take a picture of him next to it!
Have a good weekend folks, I will try to but I'm at work!
I found a box of photo's in the loft today, so I started having a look through them, and oh dear what a laugh we had. Some of them really showed how much Christine's weight has fluctuated during our relationship (mine has just gone up and up) and others showed me how far I have come as a photographer, and some just gave me a bit of a giggle. I'll be posting some of them to facebook over the coming days and weeks as the scanner is in a weird position and its already caused me to go into back spasms (not fake injuries like Michael Dunn)
I thoroughly recommend getting some of the old pics out and having a look!
So the Northern Conference champions are the Dekstar Comets, who finished the season unbeaten after winning their final game 6-5 in a 'competitive' game against the Supernova's.
Despite missing Captain Michael "SICKNOTE" Dunn through an alleged injury (even though there is nothing wrong with him) for the last 2 games the Comets have been the team to beat from the very start of the season.
So here they are, there are a couple missing but you will notice Sicknote and Benno the Goon Thompson, both managed to make it into the photo with their kit on, what a pair of John Terry's!
We were a bit too early for that. And anyway you didn't want the 97th Sunset of my project, did you Darren!!!!
I'm back to walking on my breaks at work again, and also have gained some walking buddies, which makes it a bit more fun. Today we managed to get out for 2 walks, and got to see some very interesting things, there was a lady in a see through black skirt wearing a white thong, there was a group of chavs, one of whom got caught taking a piss by a lady out running with her dog. What can I say, its a classy area.
There is also some classy graffiti on the sundial, an example of which is 'Jamie I am wet for you, P.S. it was raining'.
Another half arsed blog post. Work on a bank holiday will do that to you. The most exciting thing to happen to me today is getting the wife some cheap fruit for her to freeze for warm day cooling treats, and some bananas and hummus, just cos she likes them.
Always check out your local supermarket for whoopsies, last week I got 2 loafs of bread for 14p, put it in the freezer, ideal for toasting!
Today has been a bit of a blast from the past Sunday. All about hockey, well kind of.
Firstly, not sure if I have shared the news with you all yet, but Erin has finally cracked it, she can ride her bike, without stabilisers or any assistance! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRCdXCh16tU)
So today we headed off out on a bit of a bike ride, before heading out to catch up with the Dekstars in their last training session before UK nationals next weekend.
Then also we headed down to Whitley Bay ice rink to see the Whitley Bay Squaws demolish Nottingham Vipers as they took another step to once again winning the league, and again so far this season they are undefeated.
Todays picture see's Squaws / Dekstars / GB International Sarah Smith carrying the puck out through the offensive zone.
Taking pictures at Whitley Bay Ice rink is always a bit of a challenge and today was no different but it was good to know I can still produce a passable image in these extremely testing conditions!
Here I am ready to shamelessly plug another one of my friends businesses. But then again if I didn't know such a talented group of people then I wouldn't feel the need to shamelessly plug their wares.
This time its the wonderful Inksville of Ponteland (they are geet posh now and that). I have recently purchased these amazing T-shirts from their new line of classic Kids Tv Show themed shirts. Its a little outside their usual line which is more petrol based, but once again the guys have come up top trumps.
I own a fair few Inksville designs, and they are always happy to help out with custom print jobs too, essentially thats what the Mysterious cities of gold T-shirt is. They are cool, but not cool enough to have been fans of this awesome show.
So if you need some custom T's or print work done, or even if you are just looking for some awesome T-Shirts (for the lady and the man) then make http://www.inksville.net your first port of call. You won't be disappointed.
Now I'm off out with one of these T's on to sit in a beer garden and catch up with an old friend!
Yesterday (yes you read that right, this is the first time I haven't posted on the day the picture was taken) I was at another wedding. It was another brilliant day and both bride and groom looked stunning.
It was a new venue for me and I really can't say enough about how excellent the venue were, they were very accommodating to me, letting me know little 'secrets' about the best places in the venue to take pictures, including letting me in to guests rooms!
However a special mention needs to go to the florist, who produced quite possibly the most gorgeous table decorations I have ever seen, the guy is an artist. So thats what my photo of the day (yesterday) is. Along with the hanging decorations like this one, there were also single stems in the tiny hanging vases.
So not being content with having a full time job, trying to find ways to establish my own business, being a parent and running a highly successful blog and photography project, I have now also joined the gym.
So this is my view at least twice a week, hopefully more like 3 or 4 times a week as I try to shift a little bit of bulk!
So you'll have to excuse me if I get a couple of days behind but I will always come back! Well I'll try anyway!