Monday, April 30, 2007

Welcome to the first part of my "Build your own lion" series...

The top picture got POTD yesterday on the Photographers Corner; I was really pleased with that. This picture turned out just about exactly how I wanted it too and you can't ask for more than that!

Until now, if you'd asked me what my favourite big cat was, I wouldn't have said "lion". Now it is. I got such a huge thrill out of being so close to them and to looking into their eyes.

Another glorious sunny day here; and P's birthday. I'm off for my long walk soon, then finishing off P's birthday cake (victoria sandwich with raspberries and whipped cream filling!) and then in the afternoon it's my RDA session.
Me at the Big Cat Day, photos by Julie Smith

Me eye to eye with a lion, staring into those golden eyes as he stared right back at me! - this was something I'll never forget!

We had the most wonderful time at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Kent, on our Photographers Corner Big Cat Day out.

I travelled down on the Friday night with my very own wildcat, JS and her family. We stayed for the weekend at J's in-laws in Essex, who were really welcoming and hospitable. It was great setting off on the Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine knowing we had a full day ahead for taking photos. We met up with several TPC site members for the first time and it was lovely to meet the real people behind the screen names. The centre is very well organised and the animals really cherished. The two keepers who accompanied us, Fraser and Kathy, told us all about the animals and their personalities. We got to touch lions and we also got "sprayed" by a tiger!

You'll be seeing lots of photos of cats over the next few weeks/months/years LOL but for now here are two snaps JS took of me with my compact camera. It's going to take me ages to look at all my shots, let alone edit them!

On the Sunday we went into London to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. It was really interesting to see the prizewinners. I was pleased to see Nikon users very well represented amongst the winners :)
Wedding Anniversary - 19 years today.

How much can one person love another?
A universe exists in time and space,
Placed within the boundaries of one place,
Pressed into a point far from forever.
Yet love comes to us from some quite other,
Visiting our sorrow with its grace,
Answering our rage with its embrace,
Lending us the wisdom of its wonder.
Even as I say this, you are there,
Nestling in where need undoes the day,
Taking up your small infinity.
Inside my window, you are everywhere,
Nor could I tell how much such love might weigh,
Even were it salient as the sea.
Nicholas Gordon

P and I have been married 19 years today. We have had our difficult times, we have experienced sorrow and distance and despair as well as fun, laughter and the birth of our two beautiful daughters. I know that I am very, very lucky to be married to one of the most honourable, honest and kind men in the world. Nineteen years has taught me to be grateful for all that my husband IS and all that he DOES and not to fret about stuff that does not really matter in the long run! (I never said I was a fast learner!) He surprised me with this beautiful Radley bag :) I was speechless...well, almost!!

On Friday P won a photography exhibition on the Wirral (Wirral Spring Exhibition of Art and Photography ) His beautiful photo of New Brighton Lighthouse was chosen from over 140 entries. I'm so proud of him :)

Tonight we are taking the girls to see the musical "Chicago" to celebrate our anniversary.

OLLIE Thanks to all the kind blog friends who expressed wishes for Ollie's eventual return. He was in fact run over on Easter Sunday - the silly boy was fast asleep under a car when it drove away.In some ways it's better to know what happened than to be always hoping he might come back. Your nice comments made me smile. He was a funny and playful cat and I am remembering that by looking at his photos :)

Friday, April 27, 2007

For catblogging Friday - here is Ollie. I miss him so much! Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shea has developed a fascination with frogs and I'm constantly rushing out to rescue them from him. He hasn't hurt any yet; he specialises in hovering with menace. I found one poor little fella with his front feet over his eyes today - a friend told me this morning that they did that when threatened by a cat but I didn't believe her...sorry, C, I've now seen it with my own eyes!

I found this little frog on the lawn yesterday and popped him into the pot pond on the deck. He must like it as I noticed him on the rim this afternoon. I still had the macro lens on the D40 and rushed to get it and knelt in the rain on the wet decking to take a few shots. This is the best and it's hand-held. I love the blue of the pot and the vibrant green on the pond grass framing the frog.

The girls and I have been watching the first series of "Life on Mars" on DVD. We're really enjoying it! Last night I spotted an orange bongo lamp identical to one we used to have when I was a kid. It's funny how the fashions don't look too dated as many of the 70's styles are back in fashion again! On the same theme I've just read a good book called "Where did it all go right?" by Andrew Collins, about growing up normal in the '70s. Not nearly as good as Nigel Slater's "Toast" but a pleasant nostalgic read anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2007

As it was wet this morning I got up early and went to the gym for an hour before doing my aerobics class - if it had been sunny I was going for a walk! Since getting home I've been sorting laundry and putting together a 5-seed loaf in the bread maker as well as chatting to friends. I was supposed to be doing the ironing but instead I took some photos. I am still really struggling with the macro lens - must practice more! I quite like the pink carnation below - it's the best of the lot.
I decided to spray this flower with some water but again, it wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. Sometimes I feel i'm going backwards with my photography, not forwards!

Now I really must do the ironing. P is away in Lomdon until tomorrow night. Oops.....just realised I forgot to have lunch; that's not like me!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A day out in Chester....
Well, not exactly - we spent Saturday shopping for clothes in Chester. We grabbed a Sayers Sausage Roll each for lunch as we were pressed for time and ate them standing up on the Rows, looking down into the street below. I took these snaps with the Olympus - the sky was terrible but I always love the contrast between old and new in Chester.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Just playing around with Photoshop....
Has been a very long day; shopping for clothes for P and the girls.we visited Cheshire Oaks first for coffee and eventually ended up in Chester. At least we were fairly successful and bought a few things.

S rode Misty today and did really well. We ran out of time so the garden centre trip wiill have to wait until tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I guess I'm going to be limited for cat images for Catblogging Friday now we only have Shea but here's a pic of him asleep on the stairs - I hope he gets bored with this spot as if he doesn't one day I'll fall over him for sure!

We have pretty much decided we'll get another cat as soon as we can make it up to Cumbria to our friends Animal Rescue organisation, Pets Lifeline. For now we're letting Shea sleep with us in case he is lonely which has his disadvantages as the other night I accidentally nudged him with my foot and he bit it - ouch!! Not a good way to wake up in the middle of the night!

Another beautiful sunny day here but the tide was in so no walk around the Marine Lake. Work is going ok but I'm glad it's nearly the weekend...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Todays photo was inspired by a post from Carmi about small details. This is a tealight holder I found once and had to buy...I love the shape of it and it was very, very cheap!! It was a bit dusty though....I pulled off the worst of the cobwebs before I took the photo!

Another training walk this morning that went well. A came along as well; it was non-stop exercise for our voices as well as our legs and an absolutely glorious morning. In the afternoon I went to Riding for the Disabled - first time after the Easter break. I loved it - last ride I was leading Albert, an Irish pony who must be part mule judging by the size of his ears and his stubborn disposition!! But i like the horses with character. The entire ride he was either sneezing all over me OR trying to nudge me into the ditch - bless.

Am off to visit a friend tonight - and her new coffee machine! I'm promised a cappucino and we are going to watch "The Apprentice" together.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I spotted these swans and ducks when i was out round the Marine Lake on Saturday. Fortunately the computer is ok again - P was able to sort it when i got home.

J and I went for another Race for Life training session this morning and really enjoyed the walk. Since then I've hung out washing, made some scones and am about to start on the ironing - what a thrilling (not) life i lead but I'm not complaining!

The girls are back at school and I miss them.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh dear, something is wrong with the computer!! It is working BUT I can't access my email or any of my files or photos :(

I just wandered over to the Team Smarties auction page. I really fancy one of those pampering days so I'm going to put in a bid!!

For my sins; I'm going shopping in Chester today with K & S. At least it will stop me staring mournfully at my ailing computer......

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A mass of colour...
I was working saturday and on saturday night some friends came round unexpectedly with pizza from Costco and we had a nice evening eating, drinking and chatting - we sat outside until dusk which was lovely and then today as soon as I got up P whisked me off to do some clothes shopping (his not mine) which wasn't very successful for him although I got a pair of linen trousers (LOL). Then it was a quick lunch and straight off to P's parents for the rest of the day.
Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Marine Lake, West Kirby

I like to walk around the Marine Lake in my lunch hour when the weather is good. These red things made me think of standard lamps; I don't know what they are for at all. I really enjoy my walks. A complete circuit of the lake and the walk to and from the library take me around 50 minutes. Sometimes I talk on the phone to a friend: at other times I listen to music, sometimes I just THINK.


This was another comp entry for the TPC March competition. This was my best placed photo and I came joint sixth with it. I had so many ideas but in the end was rushed for time and as usual found it hard to put my ideas into practice.

I couldn't face Catblogging today; just feel too sad about Ollie still.
But then something happened that really made me smile!!

My blogger friend picperfic has very kindly nominated me for the award below!

I am absolutely thrilled. I think I met M by following a link from a comment she'd made on someone else's site and was at once captivated by her beautifully designed blog, her photos, her creativity and her energy. She is one of those multi-talented people who seem to be able to do lots of things really well and another thing I really like about her is she's a very loving and proud mum. I would absolutely love to meet her one day - fingers crossed we'll manage it soon! And she is knitting me a cardi aren't I lucky?? Thanks so much for brightening my day!!

So now it's up to me to nominate five people whose blogs I like and admire (not in any order!!):

Kathy is a long time penfriend of mine and fellow librarian. We share an interest in photographyas well as the written word. Kathy is not only very talented with her camera but she shares her thoughts on art and creativity in such an interesting way. I find myself thinking of her words a long time after I've read them. She doesn't just look, she SEES. She is kind and generous and fair.

Lori is a photographer and horse breeeder with vast amounts of courage and determination coupled with the soul of an artist. She sees so much beauty around her and luckily for us captures it with her camera. Lori loves and understands horses and takes amazing photos of them - I have to call in every day for my "horse fix" as do many others in the blogging community. Lori battles constantly with the ever-changing weather in her home state of Indiana but she's always positive, cheerful and a great support to others. Lori; I'd so love to meet you one day....

Memories Catcher
Who could resist a name like that? This blog, Crossing the Line, is full of beautiful photographs of Portugal along with lots of interesting historical, cultural and geographical information. It makes you want to pack your bags and get on a plane and I am always delighted to visit whenever it's updated. You've got to see it!

Mafia Wife
I have known M for for some time now; I think it was her blog that got me hooked on blogging really. M is a photographer, wife, mom, waitress and all round great gal and we're planning on meeting up in July when we visit Chicago. M is full of energy and enthusiasm; she thinks more clearly than most people I know and best of all, she can put her thoughts into words that make a lot of sense. If I need advice she's a person I'd trust. And she's FUNNY!!!

Anna is a very talented photographer who has improved beyond belief since I've known her - going from complete beginner to a published photographer in only a couple of years. This Canadian girl married to an Englishman has a great sense of humour as well as an eye for a good photo; it's always a tonic to visit her blog and see what she's come up with.

It was so hard to chose only 5 - I visit lots of you daily and I REALLY enjoy every single visit. Some of you I've not known as long as others, some of you (like Talj) have already been nominated by picperfic and of course I can't nominate picperfic herself as she nominated me! I'd have happily nominated everyone of you!

Someone who I've not known for long but think is incredibly special is Ruth
Ruth, I'd nominate you like a shot but am not sure you have the time for it right now,your blog has made me think, learn and appreciate everything more than words can say.

So now it's up to YOU LOT!! Here are the rules from the originating site of the award:

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. I thought it would be appropriate to include them with the meme.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

That was that! Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all - blogs that really get you thinking!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A day out at Chester Zoo
The girls and I met a friend and his daughter at Chester Zoo today. It was really warm and pleasant and we had a great visit. As usual I was fascinated by the beautiful displays of flowers everywhere. The gardens are so well planted and looked after.

Orangutan looking grumpy!

Three heads are better than one - but it didn't look very appetising!

Terrible aim...!
The keeper was throwing balls of food at the orangs but his aim was terrible and much of it went into the water. Here is one of the orangs fishing a ball out with a twig!

I got all of my summer clothes out of storage - so stand by for a cold snap! It was great to see them again! After having not seen them for 6 months or so they almost feel like they are new. I never feel so excited to be getting my winter clothes out at the end of summer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dragon's Egg

This second photo is a re-editing of a photo I took for a competition on TPC on the theme of "Eggs". I hope everyone is doing ok. it's really warm and sunny again today. It's been a slow sort of day; I spent most of this morning on the phone! We had a chance to go swimming but neither girl wanted to and my IBS was bad so it was probably just as well I didn't go...ugh!
When I eventually got dressed I went to B&Q for some compost and plants. When down in the dumps I usually either bake or garden.
I had a lovely evening with my friend CL last night - just a couple of drinks in a pub but I really enjoyed talking to her.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ram's head
This was my favourite photo from Eaton Hall. I tried various apertures and angles but I liked this the best. I love the lichen in his nooks and crannies.

I noticed this chubby little face peeping down from the edge of this statue in the wildflower garden.

The lichen on this really added to the timeless feel, I think. I love the graceful folds of her veil and the way she seems to be looking into the far distance.

i am taking the girls and their friends iceskating today.

UPDATE: P just phoned me with some incredibly sad news about a work colleague. It seems to me that Easter has been a time of great loss and sadness to a number of people and others are struggling with worries and anxieties. I am sitting here trying to make sense of everything and thinking about love and friendship. There is so much pain but there is so much love too. I read it in the blogs I visit every day, I see it in online communities like DPC and TPC, and I experience it from family, friends and even from my animals. As Talj says on her blog "....a reminder to make the most of every moment and to tell those who mean the most to you, you love them. None of us know whats around the corner"

Monday, April 09, 2007

The gates to the Kitchen Garden at Eaton Hall
We visited Eaton Hall on Sunday with P's parents. The Duke of Westminster lives here - some of the time! I liked the way the black and gold of the gates stood out against the blue skies this afternoon. There was lots of blossom out but as it was breezy it was difficult to photograph.

By the river

Old judge
This grumpy looking chap was surrounded by this wonderfully contorted abd twisted vine but he didn't look too impressed!

The fountains

The Hall with the Clock Tower behind it
This was one of my favourite shots of the day. I loved the way the trees framed the buildings.

Statues in the Lake
The light was really harsh on these statues but I took the photo anyway! They have only been in place about 9 years.

Another view of the Hall and clocktower.
There have been several versions of Eaton Hall on this site. The lates one was built around the shell of the 60s version which was a bit ugly to say the least - looked more "Dallas" than England!

After our visit to the estate we had our first BBQ of the season. Despite a disaster with undefrosted chicken it all went ok. It's been another beautiful sunny day here - what a great Easter we are having.

Update on K - apparently she has cracked a rib from coughing so much! So Edmonton Hospital has admitted her. Thanks for all your thoughts; she would be so touched!

I didn't sleep much last night as my cat Ollie is missing. He has never been absent so long. I'm fearing the worst but hope he is just shut in some where and will be home later.

Ollie was run over. We just buried him.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"This wasn't quite what Phil and Andy expected when Norm said he'd introduce them to some cute chicks...."
Happy Easter
to all those who celebrate Easter and to those who don't, I hope you enjoy your Sunday whatever you are doing.

I was thinking about the book "Five people you meet in Heaven" and this quote seemed appropriate for the world pf bloggers....

"There are no random acts...We are all connected...You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind..."

I have been busy in the garden and also putting together my new gardening blog.
If you want to take a look it's HERE

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday is horse riding day in our house, at least for S, and I think I enjoy her weekly lesson almost as much as she does. This little shetland pony would be far too small for her to ride however. I loved his little sturdy legs and his friendly expression. He and his friend had been paddling in the stream just before I took this photo.

My thoughts today are with my blogger friend Ruth and her family.
Ruth; you have shown me what love really is.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Old Man of the Forest
This is one of the sculptures in Grizedale Forest. There are lots of them but we were busy on an Easter Egg hunt with the smaller members of the group and I didn't notice any of the others!

For catblogging Friday, here is Ollie who loves his widescreen TV and would be really depressed if we upgraded to a flat screen monitor.

My eldest daughter Kate has asked me introduce you to a very special person, who is one of Kate's close friends. She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

"My name's Jade Carr and I'm 13 yrs old. I was born with a serious heart condition called "Dilated Cardiomyopathy" and at the age of 3 1/2 I had a Heart Transplant at Harefield Hospital performed by the " Proff " Sir Magdi Yacoub. On 2nd February 2007, it will be my 10th "Heart- Day" Anniversary and I will be celebrating it with a Charity Evening to raise money to send myself and my British Teammates to the World Transplant Games in Thailand 2007.

My first British Transplant Games were 4mths after my transplant in 1997 and I won my first medals, silver in the Welly Throw and silver in the 25m race. In the last 10 yrs I have only missed 1 Games, that was because I needed a Pacemaker fitting in 2002, so up to now I have 20 medals.

After this years Games in Bath,where I won 3 Golds, 1 Silver and a 4th in 100m I have been selected to represent Great Britain and N.I. in my 1st World Transplant Games in Thailand 2007.

The cost to send each athlete to the WTG is £2,200, plus £1500 for each parent of the Teenage Team, so I need to try and raise £5200 and any extra will go towards helping send my other Teammates also. So please can you help !!"

If anyone would like to help Jade, here is her JustGiving Page

I hope everyone has a wonderful Friday. I am planning to spend most of it in the garden. I have roped P in to do some major pruning and chopping of stuff!!

There is no further news of K. I'm hoping right now that no news is good news!