Monday, March 31, 2008

Quite a peaceful day, yesterday, at least until our friends arrived with their two little whirlwinds and livened us all up no end! It was a really great finale to an enjoyable weekend - even though I was caught red-handed with Aunt Bessie's frozen roast potatoes (which were bloody marvelous in fact!).

I forgot to mention yesterday that on Friday night, the Helsby Coven sallied forth to celebrate the 40th birthday of the baby of our group, D, who still looks around 25! We had a fabulous time - the best bit was when D opened a series of presents put together by M, to fully prepare her for life on the other side of 40...these included:
  • A handy name badge for when the senior moments strike and you forget your own name..
  • Big knickers with a tasteful floral design to stop you getting a chill on your kidneys...
  • Hair removing cream for the dreaded whiskers on the chin!
  • An orange shower cap shaped like a dog...with four legs and a tail...D put it on and she STILL looked good. I have a photo but dare not publish it here in case she kills me!
  • A pink diamante thong for when you are in denial about your age :)
  • Wind-ease tablets for that awful age-related flatulence.
I think the whole pub enjoyed seeing D opening these as much as we did!

This weekend has made me feel very grateful for the wonderful friendships I enjoy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


to everyone for their kind comments on Sian's portrait. I was delighted and so was she!
Today I've posted two detail shots from the wedding on Easter Sunday. I love the attention to detail today's brides show; everything seems chosen with such care in moderrn weddings. I especially like the recent styles in bouquets - much classier than my bouquet was twenty years ago!
The first photo is one of the windows in the great hall at Peckforton and the second one is pretty obvious!!

Yesterday's wedding was another lighting challenge! The room at Manchester Town Hall was so dark I only managed one shot of the service without flash that was usable - wish I'd had the D300 which is great in low light. The restaurant was ok but the layout not good for walking around taking candid shots. The disco in the evening was my worst nightmare...REALLY dark, small, crowded and with myriad flashing and strobe lights. Out of every 10 shots I took maybe one or two were ok...thank God for digital cameras.

There is something very exciting about being part of a wedding. Everyone I've met so far has been friendly and pleasant. Yesterday one lady took a photo of ME - she said it was only fair as I'd taken several of her! Another guest said "you're the sneaky photographer..." good description as I'm the one who tries to catch guests unaware when my boss is doing the important shots!And many thanks to the kind man who bought me a lemonade when I was as dry as the Sahara; I can honestly say few drinks have ever tasted as good to me as that one did!

We are having the Wildcat and family around for Sunday dinner today which will round off the weekend nicely.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sian in B&W...
first photo with my new (to me!) Nikon D80 camera and my new 50mm lens. I now have two camera bodies...get me!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The "Yellow Duckmarine" which I've not yet been time. It's always next time!

I'm a big fan of the Tate Gallery and I'm happy we have our very own branch of it here in Liverpool. This is part of the exterior wall. You can see in the reflection part of the chains that stop people tumbling into the Albert Dock.

This is the entrance to the Echo Arena.

It's been a funny few days. We had our nice time in Liverpool on Good Friday and Saturday was taken up with grocery shopping, Phil and Kate going to watch Everton, and me taking Sian riding. Sunday I had a wedding shoot. It didn't go well.

The service and reception was at Peckforton Castle. It's a wonderful location and an imposing building but inside it was a lighting nightmare, at least for me. It has dark red sandstone walls and very high ceilings - the walls seem to suck in all ambient light and the ceilings are too high to bounce flash off. Direct flash was bleaching everything out. I was upping and lowering my ISO, fiddling with exposure compensation, sweating and trembling...ugh! Eventually I remembered i had a diffuser for the flash and stuck that on which helped matters but a lot of my shots were over or underexposed. Outside we had brilliant sun one minute, then gloom! I have been replaying the events in my sleep, for heaven's sake!!

I'm feeling a bit discouraged but trying to look on it as a learning experience. Although I'm not sure what i did learn......except to AVOID castles in future!

Some people have asked if I will post some wedding pics. I do actually have a few nice ones, even from this last wedding, but as I'm not the official photographer I do not feel I should post any pictures I take either here or on my website that can be identified easily as coming from a particular wedding. I have a couple of detail shots I'll post soon. I have considered asking my "boss" if i can use any of the pics I take but I don't want to put him in the awkward position of having to say "I'd rather you didn't use them" as then I'd feel embarrassed and he'd feel he'd been put in a difficult position.

Will be learning to use the D80 soon as Phil's new camera is on its way! A whole new learning experience to come for both of us...!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More from our trip to Liverpool...

My dad use to be a captain in the Brocklebank Line. The ships he sailed in were bigger than this little boat though!
This is part of the Echo Arena down at the Waterfront. This wasn't even built last time I was there!

The building work for "Capital of Culture" is nearly finished yet! I liked how the red cranes stood out against the dark clouds here.

The famous Liver Building. That's a Liver Bird perched on the top!

Happy Easter everyone!I was at a wedding shoot all day yesterday and got back to late to post this in time for Easter Sunday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We went to Liverpool yesterday to see some of the changes in the city. It still seems a bit like a work in progress! I was thinking of Anna when I took these pictures. Please check out her "Project Red" - she is the most AMAZING photographer. Anyway, Anna, these are for you!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I usually post pictures of Basil for catblogging Friday; here is one of Shea that Phil took. He has a rather cute green smudge on his nose. Shea is such a loving little cat; he will spend hours tucked onto my shoulder, purring.

Here's a story I found on the BBC website...good news and worth sharing I think!

Cat owners appear to have a much lower risk of dying from a heart attack than their feline-spurning counterparts, a study suggests.

Researchers looked at nearly 4,500 adults and found that cat ownership was related to a 40% lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.

The team speculated that having a cat may reduce stress and anxiety, and so protect against cardiovascular disease.

The findings of the study were unveiled at the International Stroke Conference.

The study, led by Professor Adnan Qureshi at the University of Minnesota, suggested that even those who no longer owned a cat benefited from these protective effects.

But specifically, some 3.4% of those who owned a cat during the duration of the study died from a heart attack, compared with 5.8% of those who did not.

The benefits held true even after the researchers adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol.

However the authors warned against impulsive cat purchases.

They said while cats may indeed have a calming effect, it was unclear whether the kind of people who opted for a cat in the first place may have a lower risk of heart attack.

This study did not examine the advantages of having a dog, although previous research has suggested this too may have health benefits above and beyond taking them for walks.

The Pet Health Council notes "there is an increasing amount of research proving that contact with animals can bring real physiological and psychological benefits including reducing stress, helping to prevent illness and allergies, lowering blood pressure, aiding recovery and boosting fitness levels.

"Research has also shown that pet owners make fewer annual visits to the doctors than non pet owners proving the saying, 'a pet all day keeps the doctor away'."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mr Angry...

I didn't have a great start to my day. For various reasons I ended up driving to our monthly meeting knowing I was 30 minutes late. When I got to the car park there were no spaces and I had to circle round for 10 minutes. I eventually found a space, parked and got out. As I was walking away I heard an angry voice yell "Oi you, you stupid cow!" I looked back and the guy in the big black 4x4 next to my car had wound down his windows and was glaring at me. I went over and said "Is there something wrong? " Yes, you stupid cow; you just slammed your car door into my car!" he yelled, red in the face and sweating. "Did I?" I said blankly, and checked his door for damage...none. "I'm sorry," I said, "if I did that it was an accident and I apologise - there's no damage". "You stupid BLOODY cow", he yelled again, shaking his head from side to side. "I've apologised and there's no damage" I answered; "what more do you want?" And then I walked away.

I was pretty shaken. He was SOOOO angry. The strange thing was, he hadn't got out of the car to check for damage. I thought a polite apology would defuse his anger but it seemed to make it worse. It was scary...

It's annoying when some careless person scratches your car, I accept that. But he wasn't concerned enough to get out and check for damage - it was like he just wanted to scream at me and call me names. What sort of person keeps yelling abuse after the other person has apologised?

My knees stopped shaking about half an hour later!

If by any chance he reads this and recognises himself...I suggest anger management classes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tulips & tomato Wednesday.

I haven't taken any photos for a few days so it was nice to grab the camera and take a few snaps. Phil gave me these lovely tulips on Monday evening. I do love tulips; even if they do have a short life as a cut flower! I am also really into my soup making. Last night I made a new soup with miso paste, noodles, chicken, spinach, carrot, courgette and spring it's one of my very favourites, tomato. The great thing about soup is you can chuck in lots of veggies. This soup has parsnip, courgette, carrot, leek, onion and celery lurking in the depths.

Kate has been off school this week with "Kate flu", like man flu only MUCH MUCH worse, of course! She also had two baby teeth pulled at the dentist yesterday, poor girl is not having a good week.

It's been a nice day...I walked with dear Jane this morning; what a tonic she is and how blessed I am in her friendship. Then soup making and a bit of gardening..well, I cut the grass! Only one more day at work then I'm off for Easter.

I'm really thrilled we have found a nice cottage in the Cotswolds for our summer holiday. The girls and I are going with Phil's parents as he hasn't any leave left until October - he's using it all for the commission. It will be good to get away for a week.

Am feeling more positive...I'm thinking "Middle Girl". Dianne, you'll know what I mean!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

So much for feeling happy and confident and positive. Everything feels as if it has collapsed around me over night. And then something apparently minor occurred this morning which left me feeling very low and insecure. God, I'm useless...

All I can do is hope this passes. Sorry for being such a wuss today.

On a lighter note I got this from Everything & Nothing. Funny how it turned out, as Spiderman is my favourite superhero!

Which superhero are you? Apparently I am Spiderman..

You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An image from the last wedding..seemed appropriate for a Sunday post.

Phil is thinking of investing in a D300 which means I'll "inherit" the D80, really exciting thought! I'll keep my much loved D40 as a second body. We are looking at lenses however, as the kit lens that came with the D40 is useless and I've been using Phil's 18-135 for the weddings. Phil would be happy for me to have that but he's looking for a decent, useful lens to be his walkabout lens on the D300.We are both earning some money now from our work so it makes sense to invest some of it in better kit.

Work was busy and productive yesterday and today we're doing not very much at all. I have been having a bit of a de-clutter session which always cheers me up; sad git that I am!

My blogfriend Jo-ann is very worried about her beloved dog who is sick. I really feel for Jo-ann; my pets are are part of our family and we all love them so much. Please say a prayer for Jo-ann and her lovely dog or send them positive thoughts...I hope you don't think it's wrong to pray for an animal? I know I don't...

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's catblogging Friday and here is Basil. I found him sitting in the (empty) birdbath yesterday. He was looking very innocent, I thought.

Basil has a morning routine. After breakfast he comes upstairs and sits on my dressing table to birdwatch. He loves the view. The window is covered with little smudges from his nose being pressed against the glass. He is not very impressed with my statue of the laughing Buddha which he often knocks over!

After a hard couple of hours birdwatching Basil retires to a bed (not his own!), a sofa or a chair to sleep off his efforts until suppertime.

Great, busy day at work today. The hours flew by. I'm also very excited because my next wedding is on Easter Sunday and it's at Peckforton Castle - we will be using the studio lighting too, another great learning experience for me, hurray!! I am counting the days...

For the past few months I've been trying to get my life on a better footing, to stop being so negative and pessimistic. I work away, reading my self-help books, my affirmations,trying to live my life in the moment, looking at my laughing Buddhas when I feel myself slipping back into gloom...I feel so much better in myself but didn't think anyone else noticed anything. But today my lovely deputy told me I was a changed person much more upbeat and's encouraging.

Being the person I am, I felt a pang of sadness and regret that I've "wasted" 46 years being a negative pessimist who felt depression was her natural state. But the sadness didn't linger. I will instead try to live the rest of my life (however long or short) being happy and content. I can't change the past; all I have is now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This was my view back along the Promenade at West Kirby during my lunchtime walk on Tuesday. Normally there are lots of people about! The wet pavements make it obvious that waves have been crashing over the railings and there was a lot of debris too as you can see.

The gales were bad last night and I didn't sleep well but apart from a broken latch on the gate there seems to be no damage to our home.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Claudia of "Everyday kindness" was kind enough to give me this lovely award! I would like to pass it on to all my kind blogfriends who encourage and support me in everything I do. So please, display this on your sidebar if you'd like it, with my love!

Today's picture is another cactus shot from Ness Gardens.

I'm waiting for the next phase of the storm to hit. Yesterday it was the southern part of the uk who got the worst of it; tonight it's apparently our turn. I'm dreading going to bed in the attic, without Phil, so I may set up the airbed in Sian's room instead.

It was very windy on the front at West Kirby today. Not many people braved the high winds and the spray. Still, it's always better to get out into the fresh air at lunch time then stay inside, I think.

We have a warm house and hot water again; BLISS! Honestly, until you have no hot water you don't appreciate what a miracle it is to have this "on tap".

Who's the lady with the hat? ...We call her the hat lady.

I'm feeling a bit more cheerful today; two hours of physical exercise helped quite a bit! But we didn't sleep well because of the gales. Thamk goodness there has been no damage so far. The house is freezing as the boiler isn't working. Thank heavens for gas fires in the two main rooms downstairs. Boiling kettles to wash dishes is not fun at all...

My title today comes from an old TV show I was quite addicted to once...Twin Peaks. My favourite ever lines were:
"Who's the lady with the log?"
"We call her the log lady".
It still makes me laugh...why, I have no idea!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I entered this photo in a competition on TPC on the subject of "Structures". It didn't make it into the top ten, worse luck! I like it nevertheless, it is in Millenium Park, Chicago.

It's been a quietish day; I've done a bit of spring cleaning/sorting and hope to do more after aerobics tomorrow. I'm in that sort of mood...

I'm also a bit upset about something that has been dear to my heart for quite sometime. I'm debating as to whether I should continue to be involved with it. I'm not entirely comfortable with the direction it seems to be heading in...I also feel that if I express my feelings it's unlikely to make any difference...the only option I have is to withdraw. I'm going to think on that for a while. Not make any hasty decisions!

I have been given the chance to maybe do some admin work on a local level for Red Bubble which has come at a good time for me.I need to think about that too...

I'm racked with doubts over my ability to do a good enough job on these weddings. However, it's a huge (massive even!) boost to my confidence that my mentor thinks I'm good enough. I have several more weddings coming up to practice on...and I love it so much. I won't let my fears stop me.

I guess I'm a little down tonight.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

This is one of my favourite pictures from World Book Day at the library. This is Little Red Riding Hood. Is it me, or are teachers getting younger all the time???
Due to the ongoing debate about the ethics of photographing children, I did not take pics of the kids, which was a shame as there were some wonderful outfits. But I'm happy with the pictures I got of the teachers, who really entered into the spirit of the day with their outfits. No-one took a picture of me as Mog, sadly (or maybe that's a blessing?) was a great day.
Today in my capacity as assistant wedding photographer, I went to visit clients with my "boss". They are a lovely couple and I am very excited about doing the photos as the locations are wonderful. The civil ceremony is in a venue called the Glass House which apparently has glorious gardens and a fruit maze. The reception is in a marquee next to the groom's family home, which has a beutiful garden, full of interesting features, steps, there is even a couple of ponds!! Now we just need decent weather.
Off for a curry with friends tonight...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I like Wednesdays...

For a start, I don't work on Wednesdays. I had a little lie in this morning, until nine, then did my usual tidying up of all the stuff lying around the house.

I watered some planters in the garden as we're still not getting very much rain. I took a few photos too...and was delighted to see the frogs have been busy and we have frogspawn in the pond. I have some dwarf tulips in bloom, as you can see by the photo.

I made a veggie shepherds pie for dinner; then spent an hour or so going through my wedding photos and editing them.

Then it was time for RDA. We had a full afternoon as all the rides turned up. It's always so enjoyable being at the stables.

This evening was a bit different; Parents Evening for Sian. Apart from being TOO CHATTY she's doing well so we are well chuffed :)

The only downside to today is the boiler isn't very well...we are warm enough as we have a gas fire in the sitting room but there is no hot water or radiators :(

Tomorrow should be's World Book Day and I'm going to be dressed as a cat for the day - we have lots of classes coming in!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers (and mothers in law and step-mothers!)everywhere.

I am blessed to be the mother of my wonderful daughters, as well as the daughter in law of June - my friend, my "other mother", always kind, always fun, always there for me. I love you all so much!

I miss my mum.

This Mother's Day without you strains belief
In life and love and what it means to be,
But there is beauty in my lonely grief.

Your death is like a wound without relief,
Pain on pain as far as I can see,
And so this day without you strains belief.

What's the point of living when a thief
Can break into your heart so easily?
But there is beauty in my lonely grief.

You fell away from me, a withered leaf
Twisting down to darkness, leaving me
This day without you, chilling my belief.

And yet there's beauty in this burning brief
Bright burst of light that ends in agony,
Beauty in the cause of lonely grief,

The love I have for you, a jewel-like reef
In silent prayer beneath my empty sea.
This Mother's Day without you strains belief,
But there is beauty in my lonely grief.

bu Nicholas Gordon

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I am a tired but happy Julie tonight after another enjoyable and educational wedding shoot. It's been a busy week for me as I was on a course Thursday and Friday.

I was struggling in the early part of the day as my speedlight wasn't functioning well. It's only the second time I've used it and I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to technology so it took SOME TIME for me to twig that perhaps the batteries needed changing??? Then I had to find my "boss" as i couldn't work out where the battery compartment was. He was kind and didn't laught too much at me...! Once that was sorted i felt better.

This was my first marquee wedding and was certainly different. The chuch was the loveliest I've ever seen. Sadly it was so windy it was impossible to take many photos at the church.

Today's pic is a key I noticed while I was at the rear of the church during the address from the vicar. It's impossible to be at wedding (at least for me!) without passionately wishing the newly weds a long and happy marriage. I wish all couples could somehow be handed a "magic key" to happiness on their wedding day. Perhaps this one is that magic key? I certainly hope so...