Category Archives: Outdoors

A secret squirrel

Secret Squirrel

Bertie was quite relieved when he was moved away from the gushing waterfall and placed safely back in the bag. Honestly! He thought, the things I do!!! And he brushed off a few bits of moss which had decided to attach themselves to his legs. Bertie decided he was out of practice with this adventure stuff and stuck his head out of the bag to see where they were heading next.

It was a beautiful day. The sun warmed his fur and a gentle, spring breeze brushed against him they made their way along a winding pathway. This is how Bertie remembered home. Not raining and dismal but a warm, fresh spring day like today where the birds were singing and everything seemed to come alive.

Suddenly, they stopped. Bertie heard a rustling noise and he knew this was his cue to stay very still. Looking around Bertie could feel he was being watched, but he wasn’t sure by who or by what!

He heard the soft rustle again and looked up. There, in the tree above him, was a squirrel looking back at him with small, black beady eyes. There was something very unusual about this squirrel. It was red in colour and quite small. The oak leaf it carried in its mouth looked as big as its head.

Bertie was face to face with a real, rare red squirrel. These squirrels can only be found in certain parts of the UK and are quite tricky to spot. What a treat!!! Thought Bertie. He was so pleased when he heard the familiar shutter of the camera. He didn’t dare move in case he scared the squirrel off but at least they got a photograph for Croc.

I wonder what Croc would make of a red squirrel? Thought Bertie. He would probably be hiding at the bottom of the camera bag. What do you think?

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Waterfall adventure

Bertie by a waterfall

Bertie and Croc had had a long rest after running, well being carried on, a half marathon. Bertie’s legs ached from jumping up and down inside the pocket. Croc’s legs ached from clinging onto the material of the pocket for dear life praying he didn’t fall out.

The weather was beginning to warm up in the UK now. Croc hadn’t experienced the UK when it was warmer and he had found a safe and happy spot on the window sill where he could follow the sunshine all day. As the sun moved across the windowsill, so did Croc, shuffling when no one was watching.

Bertie was itching for another adventure and spent his time pacing backwards and forwards from the sunny windowsill to the camera case. This was how Croc got left behind!!!

You see on glancing into the camera case, and seeing Bertie, and being so use to Croc hiding. Nobody noticed that Croc was missing and so Bertie was whisked away on an adventure without his best friend. This was the first adventure he had been on by himself in a while and Bertie’s stomach began to churn and he felt quite upset! He hoped Croc wouldn’t be annoyed….

Bertie was whisked out into the light and heard mumbling noises, followed by a frantic fumble around in the bottom of the bag. Bertie knew he now wasn’t the only one who realised Croc was missing. “It’s OK, Croc will be at home” Bertie heard a voice say. “We will just have to take even more photographs of Bertie so he can show Croc where he has been!!!” Bertie suddenly felt a sense of purpose and responsibility.

He posed with his best smile, trying not to show how nervous he was, trying to be brave for the photographs for Croc, as he was placed on the cold, damp rocks in front of a loud and gushing waterfall. Bertie knew Croc liked water but he wasn’t sure what his best friend would make of water which was this enthusiastic…..what do you think Croc would think of the waterfall?

 

The Bideford Half

Bertie and Croc's Half Marathon effort

Challenge is a word Bertie and Croc are quite use to experiencing. I mean, let’s face it, when your legs are as small as theirs, even climbing into a camera bag can be a challenge!

Just recently Bertie and Croc embarked on one of their biggest challenges since returning to the UK. At first they thought they were on another, ordinary adventure. They were sat comfortably in the back of the car watching the trees and landscape roll past. They were on their way to somewhere called Bideford. Bertie was, as usual, quite excited as he had never been to Bideford. Croc, as usual, was quite pensive as he hated going somewhere new and didn’t understand why this would excite anyone?

When the warm sun finally began to light up their faces, they realised they had arrived. They could hear the voices of several people, and knew that something interesting and exciting was going to happen. As they made their way closer and closer to the excited chatter they were surprised to see more people that they ever imagined, all in active wear, walking, jogging or standing around.

“What on earth is happening?” Queried Bertie. Croc shrugged and nestled deeper into the pocket he had been hiding in. Crowds, yuk, they made him shiver down his spine and feel slightly queasy.

A loud voice came over the crowd, announcing there were 1,400 people running today! Bertie looked around in shock, then down at his own small legs, “Running!?!?”

The starter went off and so did Bertie and Croc, being carried in a pocket each, bouncing around. They heard the strangest sound. It was music, Bertie was sure of it. He braved a peak out of the pocket. There were bagpipes, he heard someone say! “How odd?” Bertie shouted over to Croc. Croc pretended not to hear him over the noise. He was definitely not going to stick his head out when he was being bounced around like this. In fact, he was beginning to feel slightly sick.

Eventually, the bounciness calmed down and they began to get use to the motion. Croc, curiosity getting the better of him, braved a peek out of the pocket and saw Bertie, wind in his fur, waving manically at him! They were in a race and the landscape was amazing! They were running along the side of a river, under a canopy of trees, with an amazing view.

They watched the mile markers go by…..how much further, thought Bertie?  Suddenly they began to slow. Bertie, wondering whether the race was over, peered even more from the pocket. He jumped, as a small jelly bear fell into the pocket with him! He poked it. It didn’t move and his paw got all powdery. The familiar bouncing motion began again. They had had a jelly baby pit stop!

After what seemed like forever, Bertie began to feel them speeding up. He looked over at Croc, who had also felt the increase in the bounces and sank safely to the deep depths of the pocket. Bertie was getting into this now. As the wind blew at his fur, he felt liberated and began to cheer. They crossed the finish line in just over 2 hours.

Something else joined Bertie and Croc’s pocket on the way home….a big shiny medal. Bertie and Croc had just run their first half marathon. Bertie was super excited and chatted away all the way home. Croc silently stared at his medal. It was huge, and a strange feeling came over him. He felt proud!

Bertie and Croc on Tor

2017-01-bertie-and-croc-on-tor

Bertie and Croc woke up to find themselves in the familiar camera bag. They could feel the motion of a car and looked at each other excitedly….they were going somewhere. It was then our observant friend Croc realised Bertie still wasn’t wearing the red ribbon they had searched high and low for. Croc looked at Bertie’s face, he had a huge grin on it and excited eyes. Being the wise Croc he was he decided now wasn’t the time to point out missing ribbons. Instead he engaged Bertie in a conversation about where they could be going?

When the car finally stopped, the intrepid friends had a little longer to wait until they could peek at where they were. There were voices outside the camera bag, which turned to huffing and puffing and Bertie decided he was glad they were where they were, because outside of the bag sounded like hard work!!!

When they finally stopped, and had played paper, scissors, rock to see who would open the bags’ zip first (which was an interesting game considering neither one of them could make a flat palm for paper), Bertie won and opened the zip slowly to reveal…..

Bright sunshine, but a cold, crisp day. They peeped out together and saw lots of people and a HUGE stone tower. Mesmerised by the tower in front of him, Bertie realised Croc was tapping him and he looked round to see the most spectacular view! Croc had a big grin on his face and sat happily on top of the camera bag admiring the panoramic scenery.

Bertie had heard of this place, it had been mentioned a few times. They were at Glastonbury Tor! Bertie knew this to be a very historical site, where artefacts from the Iron Age and Romans have been found. Bertie explained to Croc that the Tor has lots of myths and legends surrounding it, especially in relation to King Arthur. It is considered a very spiritual place by some people even now. Croc wasn’t sure about spiritual, as he glanced at a funny looking chap dressed in rainbow colours playing the guitar sat at the entrance to the Tor. He was sure that the view was pretty awesome! It wasn’t the same as the Dreamtime stories Croc was use to but he was beginning to like some of these historical sites in England.

Can you spot Bertie and Croc in the photo?

Cheeky monkey’s

Eating banana's in the temple in Nepal
Eating banana’s in the temple in Nepal

Whilst travelling through Thailand and Nepal one of the things which captivated me and made me nervous at the same time was the Monkey’s.

2015 11 Cheeky monkey Thailand
Stealing food from the boat in Thailand!

They were everywhere!!!! And they were so cheeky! From chasing me and my friends off a beach on an Island so they could steal our food, to jumping in the canoes as we were paddling past and stealing fruit at the local temples. These highly intelligent creatures knew exactly how to manipulate, either through fear (they have seriously sharp claws) or through being immensely cute, they had everyone captivated.

Pulling the cute look
Pulling the cute look

Taking food from the locals

Changing the mundane

Hepworth at night copyright Key Image

To me, photography is about light.

I always find it interesting how things can look completely different with different lighting. I especially love how dusk can change a scene completely to an array of intense colours and streams of light trails. It is similar to when it snows. What was once mundane and overlooked becomes transformed into something magical.

In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, the Hepworth Art Gallery which opened in May 2011 stands grey slated and alone against the rushing waters of the weir. However, it is at dusk when this structure comes into it’s own and reveals its beauty and becomes a piece of art work within its own rights.

Perhaps when you are going about your day today, you can take a few moments to notice the things around you which go unrecognised. This time of year in England, when the days are getting shorter is the perfect chance to observe how the night light transforms the aesthetic look of things around you. Once you notice how the mundane changes to something more interesting, you will begin to see beauty and magic everywhere you go.

Have a magical day!

For more information about the exhibitions showing at The Hepworth please visit: http://www.hepworthwakefield.org

Views changing over time

Copyright Key Image
Copyright Key Image

Have you ever been somewhere and it has taken you back to a memory from a previous point in your life? Isn’t it clever how visual images, audio sounds and different smells can bring back a memory?

How great would it be if you could change your association with places and images and songs so that they are positive and work with you rather than against you. Your brain creates an emotional reaction to things when they happen. That is why a smell from a flower can bring back a memory from childhood, or a song can reduce you to tears because you remember a lost loved one.

The key is to change the way your brain associates to this thing, change the chemical reaction. There are many techniques that can be used to do this. My favourite is to listen to the song or look at the photograph. Bring back the memory and feel those intense feelings. Close your eyes and really focus all of your intent on those feelings. Create an image of the memory in your mind. Then change this image to black and white. Slowly drain all the colour from the image so it is monochrome. Then, while firmly pressing your thumb and index finger together, give the image a soundtrack, something which makes you laugh like Benny Hill. Whilst playing your new sound track and still pushing your thumb and index finger together, make the image smaller and smaller until it starts to fade away.

When you open your eyes and release your thumb and index finger you should feel calmer. When you play the song or see the image again the emotions connected to it should be weaker.

What you have done is created a new association and empowered yourself.

When you find yourself falling back into the old association and feelings, push your thumb and index finger together and remember the silly tune and the monochrome image.

Everything takes time, patience and persistence.

Life will only be black and white if you choose it to be.