Archives for posts with tag: photography

Photographs from the park at Virginia Water, Surrey, which is part of the Royal Landscape.

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The Cascade is a 10m tall waterfall built in the 1780s by Thomas Sandby, King George III’s architect, after the previous waterfall was destroyed in a storm in 1768.

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This totem pole is 100 foot high, erected in 1958 to mark the centenary of the establishment of British Colombia as a Crown Colony. Incredibly, it was carved from a single tree, a 600 year old Western Red Cedar from the forests of Haida Gwaii, 500 miles to the north of Vancouver.

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The park is home to many species of bird.

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Why did I feel the need to photograph this moment? I don’t know. I just knew I had to. I’m sure the other people on the platform found it strange that I was photographing a shiny red apple on the tracks. Could it be just that: the bright crimson juxtaposed with the grey of both the station and the banality of the situation. Waiting. And waiting. The apple: life. That life about to be wiped out in an instant by a passing train. The need to capture something that was finite. I couldn’t save the apple. I couldn’t give the apple its purpose: food, fuel. Did this apple have a higher purpose? Food wastage, yeh I get it. Life is short. Yeh, and that too. Beauty is fleeting. Come on. Pay attention to the little things. Look around you. (An apple is not). An epiphany. Get to the core of the issue. NO!

This is/is not an apple, Monsieur Magritte.

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A short time ago whilst visiting my hometown museum, I spied this photograph in a glass display box in an unassuming location. The image stopped me in my tracks. The black and white shot was of a long since departed cinema at the end of an alley called The Plaza. I was intrinsically drawn to the photograph, which was so noirish with its sleazy neon light. I imagined a sleuth in a sharp suit with a briefcase lurking in the shadows, following a dame for a murky suitor. Then I remembered that these people don’t exist in Scotland, at least not in a sharp suit.

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I decided to conduct some research into this long-forgotten cinema, which brought up some fond and nostalgic memories of cinema-going as a youngster.

The Plaza was situated in the centre of the Ayrshire town Kilmarnock. It was built in 1939 and sadly demolished in 1971, making way for the shop Marks and Spencer. The film advertised on the sign, The Art of Love, is a 1965 picture directed by Norman Jewison, starring Dick Van Dyke and James Garner.

My own love affair with the cinema, or ‘the pictures’ as we call it in Scotland, started young. Our local film theatre – latterly named ABC – was a fairly grotty, poorly-lit place decked out in gold and crimson paint, like some sort of cheap bordello. There was only one ticket desk inside and so a huge line would snake down the street, despite the mere three screens.

It was a place where bubblegum and broken popcorn were hermetically sealed to your shoes whilst giant cartoon characters became your heroes. I loved it.

It had these enormous red velvet drapes, and when they parted and the lights fell low, I’d haul out my secret stash of sweets and wait for the magic to begin. Back in the day there was an intermission, when the curtain would close and a little old lady came out with a tray full of ice creams to peddle.

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Because we weren’t well-off, I didn’t get to the visit the cinema as much as I would have liked, which I suppose made the experience all the richer. During childhood my brother and I existed on a video diet of Disney classics, early Tim Burton (Beetlejuice was our absolute favourite) and Arnold Schwarzenegger films (The Running Man is still a guilty pleasure). We watched these at my grandmother’s house as we didn’t have a video recorder. We did acquire a second-hand model at one point but it didn’t seem to like my brother’s cash gift. Anyway, I digress…

I was in my early teens when a new multiplex opened. This hit the ABC hard and they reduced their prices to just £1 per film. Even though the new cinema was charging triple the price, the allure of the shiny silver soulless facade and the nine screens (you can only watch one at once you know) was too much of a pull and the ABC closed forever. That was over a decade ago and it still stands empty.

There have been numerous stories about what’s to become of the ABC – which is B-listed – including a hotel (crazy considering it’s hardly a tourist trap), a bingo hall (isn’t there enough already?) and a kids’ theatre company, which is definitely the best bet if they can find the funding.

The floor of the multiplex is still littered with popcorn, but the theatre of cinema in the town evaporated the day those big red velvet drapes came down for the last time, all those years ago.

All pictures from scottishcinemas.org.uk

The county of Ayrshire, birthplace of Robert Burns, Hendrick’s Gin and little old me. The best thing about my county is the great outdoors, particularly when the sun is shining, which it certainly was at the weekend (28°C, unheard of in Scotland). Ayrshire is home to rolling hills, lush green pastures and a plethora of beaches.

On the first day of my trip home I visited Dunure and Croy Beach in South Ayrshire, which was glorious after months in landlocked Berkshire. I try to avoid the busier beaches, such as Troon and Ayr, and head up the coast for more secluded spots.

The views here are incredible: rugged coastline, vast sparkling ocean, and the hazy outline of the uninhabited island of Ailsa Craig in the distance, ten miles out to sea. The few fluffy clouds gave interest to the vivid blue sky and white cabbage butterflies and wild flowers were in abundance.

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If you ever visit this area be sure to take a picnic as you’ll want to spend some time here. There is also a farm park for children close by called Heads of Ayr, and a few caravan parks for longer visits. Dunure is also very close to Turnberry, the famous hotel and golf resort, which has held many Open tournaments.

This was the first leg of my trip to Norway, which began in Southampton, England. It was a very hot, sunny day and I took full advantage by lazing on a lounger on the deck as we set sail on our Scandinavian adventure.

After taking some photographs and admiring the Isle of Wight in the distance, I settled down to read The Big Sleep before making like an old lady with a game of shuffleboard and a gin and tonic. Bon voyage!

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On my recent trip to Norway, I travelled by boat from the UK, meaning I spent a period of time in the middle of the North Sea. It felt quite surreal but was incredibly freeing, and the sunsets were very nice indeed. The experience only heightened my love of the ocean, and being completely surrounded by the deep blue was quite emotional at times. I became almost hypnotised by the smooth ripples of water and the sight of this image above takes me straight back.

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I’m so happy to be writing a travel post again, especially one on a country I have wanted to visit for a long time: Norway, land of fjords, lakes and snow-capped mountains, and the most beautiful country I have seen so far, the town of Olden in particular. From above Olden literally looked like a model village, to the point that I thought it was some kind of mirage. Lush green trees crept up the hillsides dotted with colourful wooden houses, with great waterfalls speeding down the mountains.

On the way to the glacier trail I photographed a large turquoise-hued lake that I could have sat next to at all day. I really wanted to find a rowing boat and get out on the water.

I then hiked for 45 minutes uphill past waterfalls, goats and grass-roofed huts to Briksdal glacier. It was my first time seeing a glacier, and it was an impressive sight; they really do look blue close up. At the bottom of the glacier was a small turquoise lake, which looked beautiful next to the rugged landscape, although alarmingly a man who has lived in the town since 1998 informed us that when he arrived in Olden, there was no lake.

An equally pretty place was the small town of Eidfjord, with the opportunity for kayaking and of course more hiking.

The Norwegian landscape was everything I imagined it to be and more, like the Scottish Highlands but even more rugged, with higher mountains and clearer lakes.

I hope you enjoy the photographs.

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Although I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person, I am often drawn to churches and cathedrals. I suppose it helps that these buildings are often some of the most impressive examples of architecture in the world.

When I visited Tiggywinkles recently, I drove through a chocolate box village in Buckinghamshire called Haddenham. I felt compelled to stop and take some photographs of the local church, St Mary’s, which is a beautiful 13th century building situated by a pond.

It was a bright and sunny day, with the smell of freshly cut grass in the air. The pond was busy with wildlife but the rest of the village remained sleepy.

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Tiggywinkles is an animal hospital and sanctuary situated just outside Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. It is billed as the world’s busiest wildlife hospital and is available 24/7 for animal casualties.

The hospital cares for all kinds of wild animals, including deer, foxes, badgers, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits and birds. Its aim is to rehabilitate sick or injured animals, but when this is not possible they are cared for at Tiggywinkles for the remainder of their lives.

Tiggywinkles was officially opened in 1983 and named after the Beatrix Potter character Mrs Tiggywinkle, due to the large number of hedgehogs coming into the centre. A special hedgehog only ward – St Tiggywinkles – was thus created.

 

As the hospital is not state funded, they rely on generous donations from the public and from the proceeds of their visitor centre, which includes a gift shop, outdoor picnic area, coffee shop, a hedgehog memorabilia museum, and children’s play area.

 

The public are able to visit the animals in the sanctuary, which features a large aviary for red kites. The kites are the subject of daily talks, as are the hedgehogs.

The sanctuary also has a large pond for ducks and swans, a deer paddock and several gardens for smaller creatures.

If you would like to donate to an excellent animal charity or for more information please visit the website http://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/index.html

Open to visitors 10am to 4pm seven days a week until September 30th. Adult tickets priced at £5.10

Last night I took a trip to the cinema to see The Wolf of Wall Street. The film is based on a true story, in which Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the lead role as Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker with a lust for drugs and prostitutes, and an even bigger lust for the American dollar.

Although the film is set predominantly in New York, many other locations feature, including Italy, Switzerland and the Bahamas. A scene in Kensington Gardens in London reminded me of some photographs I took a few months ago of the Albert Memorial.

The Albert Memorial, commemorating Prince Albert, was designed by George Gilbert Scott and unveiled in 1872. It is gothic in appearance and has four large marble statues at its corners. Each statue represents a continent – Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe – and features an animal from that part of the world.

As well as honouring Albert’s life, the Memorial celebrates the many achievements of the Victorians, in areas such as agriculture and engineering, as well as Albert’s personal interest in the arts. At the base, a frieze displays artists, sculptors and architects, among many others (there are 187 figures in the frieze). Angels top the statue, looking over both Albert and the Gardens.

By the way, The Wolf of Wall Street is depraved, debauched and downright dirty, and I loved every salacious second.