10 Jul 2010

A rare event – a holiday with actual sunshine!

Whilst I work on the ribbon rosebud tutorial to post shortly, I thought I’d post some of the photographs taken on our recent trip to the English Lake District, as I’d been enjoying looking through them and reminiscing this afternoon. Sometimes photographs in themselves are not of portfolio quality, but it is the story behind them that is the interest. All of these photographs were taken with a compact camera, as we were concentrating on some quality walking this holiday – as somewhat rarely we actually had the weather for it too – so I didn’t routinely carry my DSLR. The photographs have been post-processed to taste.

The Lake District is a place we love very much and despite spending every possible moment there, have never tired of. We’ve often said that we’d like to win the lottery and escape there to be walking and photography bums – we often speculate just how much of it we could stand before we’d get bored of it. I suspect it might be quite a long time and I’d really love the opportunity to thoroughly test that. We’d take such a task very seriously and give it our full efforts.

So Mr Boo bought a lottery ticket tonight with a view to funding our ideal lifestyle and we did indeed have a rare win. Unfortunately it will only be enough to buy afternoon tea or a couple of ice creams, not come even close to buying any of the very, very expensive houses we’ve already shortlisted.

One of the places we love, just on the extremity of the Lakes and looking towards them and not far from where we stay, is the coastal town of Arnside. It has the air of a place that time has left thankfully largely unspoiled. It has a very tranquil and unhurried feel and we love to visit there, especially when it’s bracing and you can walk along the beach or adjacent pathways and let the sea air blow away the cobwebs. We often try to time our visits with a suitable meal time to avail ourselves of the wares of the local chippy or when the tide is coming in. Arnside has a flood tide, or bore. As bores go, it’s a modest one – but still very worth seeing. There always seem to be good sunsets here too.

This photograph was taken during an evening flood tide and you can see the water progressing just past this boat – within 2 or 3 minutes it was totally floating.

Please click on the photographs for a larger view.

A classical example of a photograph that fell somewhat short of expectations. I was trying to catch this delicate seaside Thrift at the front of the frame, in focus, at eye level with the scenery in the background. But short of lying on the rocks, I had to improvise with the self-timer and this was the best I managed – the rock I selected clearly wasn’t as level as I’d thought!

This was an odd and rather poignant scene. We’d stopped at a bench for a snack during a walk around Grasmere and I could see a crow in the edge of the water nearby eating something – he was having a substantial feed. I watched for a while through binoculars, trying to fathom out what he was eating, expecting it to be some of a walker’s discarded packed lunch. It became evident that it was the carcass of a mallard duck. As I watched, a mother duck with 3 medium sized and still downy youngsters approached and she spotted the body in the water.

She was clearly distressed by it. She’d continue on her way, then return for another look. Maybe she thought it was one of her offspring – as ducks have large broods and with only 3 remaining, she’d clearly already lost some. It was an adult duck, but it obviously troubled her, which was rather poignant – ducks clearly have feelings too.

A holiday is simply not complete until you’ve both eaten ice cream and fed ducks (and even after 30 years of training, Mr Boo still doesn’t fully grasp the concept of keeping bread past its best for just such purposes) – and this particular holiday we saw a lot of ducklings, so feeding them is compulsory. It’s the law! Fact.

Talking of wildlife – this is something that especially interests me, both as a photographic subject and just to enjoy for my own amusement. We have various spots where we regularly see deer or other favourites. I didn’t do that well on this trip, but at the very spot where we’ve seen deer before, we just spotted two youngsters amongst the trees.

At the place we stay we have a bird table outside the window and often see mice on the ground beneath, gathering morsels that fall and taking them off to their larder. We watched this particular chap making several runs to the table from a nearby reed patch – always running the same route and pausing at the edge of the reeds to check the coast was clear before dashing over to the table.

I only managed this one snatched photograph with my compact camera, as he moved so very fast and seemed to prefer running his food sorties each morning when I was in the shower – never appearing even once when I had the right gear set up for the task. I didn’t think it had the ears of a mouse, so on consultation with wildlife books it looks like it was a short tailed vole or field vole. Mr Boo established the lack of a long tail on a later visit – I believe that a long tail would have made it a bank vole.

We are currently undergoing a hose-pipe ban in the north west of England after the driest start to a year since records began – reservoirs close to us at home are the emptiest I’ve seen them for many years and this is also true of Thirlmere in the Lakes. I can’t actually recall seeing the level so low before – it must be 20 or 30 feet below its usual level.

Areas around lakes and reservoirs are often also used to grow timber crops and you’ll often come across areas once filled with dense woodland laid bare after felling. At first this looks quite alarming, to see it barren and devoid of woodland, but nature soon rectifies that and abundant life bursts forth in short order. You need to view it from close quarters to fully appreciate the diversity of life it quickly supports. The newly planted trees grow rapidly and it only looks bare for a handful of years.

In recent times, the managing of such landscapes seems to have changed, where in the past all of the dead timber would be cleared totally, they now leave smaller branches, fallen trees and scrub behind as an ecosystem in its own right. One of the nature walks we took, was part through cleared woodland and part through dense forest and it was fascinating to see the diversity of plants and insects thriving together on the cleared sections. One feature of cleared forestation is the way foxgloves (digitalis) colonise it and this year in particular, they were especially vibrant and abundant.

I’ll finish with some photographs of some of our favourite walks. Trees are very important to me and I feel most comfortable amongst them and love walks that take me through woodland – I especially love to see dappled sunlight through trees and thankfully, this holiday, we saw that more often than we usually experience it. I just cannot conceive of living anywhere without being surrounded by trees – and preferably some lakes or rivers too. The last couple of photographs are plant close ups – I’m always fascinated by the amazing geometry that occurs in nature.

4 thoughts on “A rare event – a holiday with actual sunshine!

  1. Many thanks ladies. I want to revisit that river spot Fiona with my ultra wide angle lens, it works well for that kind of shot due to the infinite depth of field – so you can get a detail like that flower in focus in the foreground, with the rest of the scene still sharp.

    I was sat there for a while trying to catch a shot of a large yellow and black striped dragonfly that kept checking me out, but was way too fast for me.

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