12 Feb 2012

Birthday walks and extreme picnicing

My husband’s boss called it infantile – that he wanted the day off for his birthday this last week – “what are you; 12 years old, that you want a day off on your birthday?” he laughed. It’s something we’ve always done, try to take a day holiday for birthdays so that we can get to spend it doing something nice.

We’re not terribly adventurous in this regard, but it is nice to spend the whole day doing something that you choose, without feeling the need to get on with chores or meet commitments. Unless you’re actually away on holiday, probably not many of us actually spend days just doing what we want, so it’s a nice and much appreciated treat when we do – and all the more enjoyable for it.

When it was my own birthday in January, we had intended doing the same, but the weather was about as horrid as it ever gets and we were both laid very low with a terrible cough, so just decided not to squander a valuable day when we weren’t fit to fully appreciate it and it just wasn’t suitable to be outside.

So this week, when it was Mr Boo’s birthday, it happily fell on the most perfect winter day – deep clear blue sky (albeit starting foggy) and very crisp cold air. The snow of the previous weekend was still lying and frozen solid, so it wasn’t good underfoot, but we were determined to make the most of it and headed off to one of our favourite spots, with a picnic packed, including hot soup, freshly baked bread and pots of birthday sherry trifle that I made the evening before.

The area we visited had less snow, so although the ground was clearly very, very cold and walking on rutted mud that’s frozen solid is an odd sensation, the going was pretty good and we wrapped up in many warm layers, opened an air activated hand warmer and managed a decent walk. It’s always a treat to get out mid-week at this time of year as you often have the place to yourself and we only passed a few other ‘mature’ couples walking dogs or spending their days off doing the same as we were. So it was especially enjoyable and very peaceful.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

The cold did deter me from much photography as my hands were incredibly cold, despite the hand warmer and thick ski gauntlets, so I don’t have much to show for the day. But as I’ve posted often, I do have a passion for the sight of sunlight through trees and occasionally it caught some of the lifting mist, highlighting the shafts of sunlight.

It’s much easier to see in person than it is to capture well in a photograph, the light is much too subtle to freeze in a split second, but hand holding the camera I couldn’t really allow a slow enough shutter speed to do it justice. But they’re probably enough to show why it was such a lovely and enjoyable day.


I decided to have a tinker with the camera’s built in panorama feature. I love taking panos, but usually take my own frames and stitch it myself, but the camera has the ability to take 120, 180 and 360 degree panos (in any direction) – giving rise to a reduced resolution but pre-stitched and finished image. It was too cold for messing to take my own frames, so I mounted the camera on the tripod screw my father added to my walking pole and just spun it round slowly to take this 120 degree frame of the woodland. The resulting image was rather poor quality at pixel level and almost entirely lacking in colour, but with a little work, I made something acceptable from it, although it isn’t good enough quality for anything further than viewing at this scale.

We relocated the car a couple of times during the day to enjoy the best light and views and as sunset approached we settled in one of our favourite laybys to catch the sun setting over the Fylde coast (Lancashire England) and we had a little snooze in the car before heading back. As darkness drew in, the light went very cold and the atmosphere grew misty again and diffused the last rays of light from the sunset, leaving these three closest trees in relief against the mist and pastel coloured sky. Not a bad way to end a lovely day.