Thinking about it…..

I Sit And Think.

I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
and people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door

by J. R. R. Tolkien

 

I was recently asked a question that has made me sit up and do a lot of deep thinking.

I was asked ….Who or what inspires me the most?

The poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘I Sit And Think’ really sums it up well.

Originally I answered the question instinctively. My answer was very simple, I’m inspired by people who like myself have been able to ‘overcome’ severe health issues, whether on a physical or mental level, and escape near death experiences. For me it summed it what incredible abilities we all have, to fight our battles, no matter how hard they are, or what odds are stacked up against us. Then there is the question why have I been able to overcome these obstacles and fight back at my depression?

Then I got to thinking more deeply, as why I gave that answer,  or even why we have been able to overcome these massive obstacles, and I had to try to narrow down my answers and analyze constructively.

To begin with what initially became a ‘recovery tool’ about seven years ago, has gradually built up to become a passion for me, because from it, it has helped me in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

My passion for photography has inspired me enormously over the past few years. It has greatly contributed in many ways to my well-being, both mentally and physically.

There is without a doubt a form of art in photography, but for me it’s a lot more than that. Photography has taught to me to evolve, for want of a better word. It has made me understand more, become more knowledgeable and it has taught me self-discipline and in addition to this, it has encouraged me to go to places I probably thought I would never go to. It has opened up my mind and opened up my life. It’s given me a new direction and a new purpose. One of the things it has allowed me to do over the last few years is to move out of ‘my own personal comfort zone’, get back into socializing and mixing with people including family and friends. I still don’t like huge crowds especially noisy ones, it makes me nervous and anxious, but I think in all honesty it is more to do with the fact that I just enjoy peace and tranquility…..which is probably why it explains my love of nature.

On and off over the past 17 years whilst I was going through some of my worst bouts of depression and anxiety, I lost interest in a great deal many things.  With depression it affects each and every one of us in different ways, myself personally, I felt that I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, see anyone I stuck to the minimal basic routine of working sometime eating and sometimes sleeping, other than that I sat on my own and cried until I had no tears left to cry, and had no emotions left in me to express. Just always negative thoughts, no ambitions or interest, and no matter how hard people wanted to try to understand how I was feeling, they just couldn’t understand. The only thing I can remember ever wishing for in those dark periods of my life was an off switch so that I could completely switch myself off from my life and the world in general.

Depression is one of those illnesses you have to experience to truly understand what it does to you, how it makes you feel, including the overall effect on your ability to just function normally in life or to just live.

Once I had started in my recovery process, I got to getting back to a little bit more normality, and bit by bit edging out of my depression zone into a new comfort zone. Now I can honestly say, I have moved out of my comfort zone and have become a little more adventurous, enlightened and a little bit more confident in my knowledge and abilities. Although, I have to say there are still times I have self doubts, and lack confidence in myself.

My photography has enabled me to go out exploring, it has given me the chance to prove to myself I can do something and do it well and learn something new in the process. It has increased my interest and therefore my knowledge in nature and wildlife as well as history. they all go hand in hand, and that is what inspires me.

How many times does one go for walk or run just for the purpose of needing to exercise to stay fit and healthy?

For instance, I see a great many people in parks taking their dogs for a walk, or people going for a quick jog with their earphones in listening to music and concentrating on running to the beat of the music, some go to local parks with bags of bread to throw down and leave for the wildfowl to help themselves to. Others use park as a short cut to get somewhere else. I see a lot of ‘basic stuff’ going on, but rarely see people with real interest in their surrounding area of beauty.

Whenever I visit a park, any park, I like to take in the surroundings, listen to the birds, sit down near the lake, get close to the flower beds and have a look at the bees on the flowers, watching butterflies fluttering by and trying to identify the species. In the summer especially I enjoy taking a little picnic lunch and I like to explore the area I am visiting. All of this in itself drives my passion to take photos and capture those once in a life time moments for ever. In the past I would just simply hear a bird sound and think about what species of bird it was. Now, however, I love the opportunity to actually try to see that bird, find out where it is, and just watch it for a while, see its beauty and study its character. It encourages me to learn about its surroundings or its behavioural patterns. Just over a year ago, I persevered and made friends with a little Robin who after several weeks of patience, fed out of my hand, and did so every day for several months until it was time for him to fly off with his new little family to pastures new, however I was able to get up close to him and he allowed me to take some photos of him. A permanent reminder of just how close you can get to nature and how fortunate I was to be able to do this.

My interest in birds, wildlife and nature has meant I have been able to explore other places. I have been able to go to Charlecote Hall nr Stratford Upon Avon, and see herds wild Fallow Deer roaming freely over the acres of beautiful parkland next to the River Avon. On the same estate they also have a flock of rare breed Jacob Sheep. This year I was able to sit and watch a pair swans and their little family of  cygnets on the river looking for food by diving down into the weed, and trying not to get tangled in it.

Part of the wild herd of Fallow Deer at Charlecote Hall nr Stratford Upon Avon. They roam freely on the estate, but are cared for by the estate staff.

Beautiful wild Poppies, and varieties of other wild flowers growing all around the estate.

A beautiful Peacock Butterfly, spotted resting in the long grass.

A couple of the rare Jacob Sheep, part of a large and thriving herd at Charlecote Hall estate.

Walking up to Charlecote Hall and its beautiful estate. Sometimes the Fallow Deer graze on the grass at the sides of the path. It’s lovely to sit on the benches at watch them.

A Mute Swan tending her young on the stretch of the River Avon that runs through the Charlecote Estate.

My photography has also encouraged me to go to different places as well as return to old familiar ones. When I was very young, my brother and I would go on a coach trips in the school summer holidays with mom and dad. A couple of the places we used to go to often was in Wales, normally Rhyl or Aberystwyth, or to Blackpool to see the lights. My memories of Wales in those days were of a little seaside town, shops that sold ice cream and rock.  Beaches that were pebbles and stones and unwelcoming, as well as the unfortunate experience of it raining almost every time we went there. In my mind for many years I told myself Wales held no interest for me to go back there, neither did Blackpool.

When I was in the Special Constabulary back in the late 1980s and early 1990’s, myself and several other friends from the Specials did a sponsored charity jump and rescue in to the sea at Tenby, also in Wales, with the RNLI. I can still remember how nervous and anxious we all were, there were about 10 of us, the sea was extremely rough and choppy that particular day of the jump and we were in old police uniforms over the top of wet suits. On the morning of the jump we had thought about cancelling it, but then realising this is exactly what the RNLI do on a daily basis, it made sense to go ahead and do the jump, thus enabling us all in raising quite a bit of sponsor money for the RNLI and our maternity hospital special baby unit back home in Solihull. I do clearly remember we all joined in with a couple of hymns, Eternal Father Strong to Save…… which included the line ‘For those in peril on the sea’. And a couple of verses of Abide With Me, a last-ditch attempt to stay strong and focused. Fortunately for us, we all did the jump and were all rescued from the sea and arrived back on shore safe and sound. We went back to Tenby a few months later for a plaque dedication and cheque presentation service at the RNLI. That was the last time I went to Wales. At least until May of this year.

An opportunity came about because of my interest in birds and wildlife, it meant I had the chance to go back to Wales to an RSPB  reserve on a coach trip in May. At first I was put off  by the idea of it being Wales, the memories of those old stony, wet seaside towns came back to me. However, I decided I was going to go outside my comfort zone again, and so booked up the day trip to Lake Wyrnvy RSPB.

To my amazement I had the most incredible day, the scenery en route, as well as the scenery around the lake was absolutely magnificent. I saw several species of birds just a few feet away from me through the hide window. The lake itself and the area immediately surrounding it was stunningly beautiful. No more was the Wales as I remembered it so long ago as a little girl.

Looking down and across the incredible and beautiful view of Lake Vyrnwy in Wales from the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel.

Looking across and up at the hotel from the other side of the lake.

A chance to see a Greater Spotted Woodpecker up close from the RSPB bird hide window.

Another close up at the bird hide of a male Chaffinch. He was going back and forth collecting food from the feeders to feed his youngsters in a nearby nest.

The highlight of my day….we heard him several times, and then suddenly there he was, a beautiful Cuckoo. My first ever sighting of one, whilst we were walking up a lower section of the mountains to a waterfall.

It was just a few weeks later I went on another trip to Powis to the Royal Welsh Show, it was very crowded and in all honesty very commercialized, but enjoyable all the same. Normally, I would see the outline of sheep in a field from a distance. At the Royal Show you could walk up and down long pathways seeing close up all the different breeds of sheep, and could also see how their character, facial expressions differed.

In July, not long after I started my new job, I went on a long weekend coach trip ‘down south’. This had already been booked up a while beforehand. One of the places I had been hoping to visit the past couple of years was the New Forest, and I had heard of the wild ponies roaming freely in the area. In addition to this the location we were staying was a Warners Holiday Village in Hayling Island, and a couple of day trips included the New Forest on the Saturday morning, Bournemouth in the afternoon and on the Sunday a day in Portsmouth visiting the historical naval dockyard, and the highlight of the weekend was a tour of H.M.S. Victory, the flag ship of Lord Nelson. The combination of all these sights meant I took several hundred photos and as a result have some wonderful memories captured forever on camera.

 

Wild Ponies walking in the road of one of the villages in the New Forest. Of course the coach stopped and gave way to these local inhabitants.

A packed Bournemouth beach on one of the hottest days of  summer.

On board the H.M.S Victory, the chance of a life time be one of the most historical ships in British history.

At the ships wheel on H.M.S. Victory.

A piece of history, the exact spot marked by a plaque, where Lord Horatio Nelson fell and died at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Throughout this past 12 months I have been fortunate to have visited many places, odd day trips here and there including Alpaca walking, visiting Monkey Forest, Iron Bridge in Telford, Twycross Zoo, several  parks and nature centre and much more, I have  been able see so much and capture it on camera. I like the idea of challenging myself to do better in my photography by encouraging myself to go the places again and do better next time. I can now set myself goals, and make the effort to achieve them. I have learned to appreciate wildlife, nature and even history more than I could ever have imagined. there is so much more out there that inspires me and its down to my passion for photography but it is also my passion for photography that inspires my love for nature and wildlife.  Capturing the moment and being able to look back and understand something about what is in each photo. All of this inspires me….

As the poem says

and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been:

Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.

Thank you for stopping by

 

 

Walking with Alpacas.

Hands up if you have ever walked an animal, other than a domesticated pet such as a dog? What! None of you!

Oh dear, then you’re missing a real treat!

As my readers know I am a bit of an animal and nature lover, and I do love to explore places where there are different animals. All the better if the place I am visiting is somewhere other than a zoo or nature centre.

I love to do something a little different every now and then, and recently decided to try to tick another to do off my bucket list.

One of the most unusual creatures I have read about over more recent years, and only seen in zoos is the Alpaca. This is an animal related to the Camel and Llama family. I have always been fascinated by its lovely characteristics facial features and its temperament.

A couple of years ago I started to read articles and see advertisements about being able to ‘go for walks’ with these beautiful creatures. Earlier this year I came across a website and a particular story about a young lady called Sarah Booth.

In Sarah’s own words….

”I went on an alpaca walk and it turned out to be a life-changing experience…..
I’d just been diagnosed with a serious illness and my partner, Stuart took me on an alpaca walk as a treat to cheer me up. It was amazing, and I decided that I wanted to live and work with alpacas.”

I thought to myself, that sounds just like the sort of day out I would enjoy….an Alpaca walk, and this particular place it was not that very far away from where I live.

With a session booked online for mid morning  Sat 21st Nov, a couple of train and bus journeys planned, I found myself there, looking across this big 6 acre field and farm watching all these beautiful animals grazing and enjoying the November morning sunshine.

Prior to my walk with my chosen Alpaca, I was able to take a little walk around the farm, where there were free range chickens, ducks and turkeys all happily running around in a great big open space. Obviously  this was agreat photo opportunity for me. Camera….free roaming animals, what could be better. Oh, and I must not forget Stella!!

The other visitors arrived between 10.30 to 11.00 am and we all spent a bit of time listening to Sarah explain a bit about Alpacas in general, as well as about her own herd. Then we were all led out in to the yard where a group of male Alpacas were ready to be chosen and taken for a walk around the farms field.

One by one we were introduced to ‘her boys’ as Sarah affectionately called them. We were told their names, and a little bit about their characters and temperaments. If I had the choice I would have loved to have taken each and every one of them for a walk….alas, I was only allowed one. The little guy I chose was Dodge.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the next 40 plus minutes. It was an absolute joy to be able to take this little guy for a walk around the field, along with my other co walkers and their chosen Alpacas. We were also allowed to walk in the next field where all the girls were.

What is also wonderful about this experience is that because these are such gentle creatures, they love to be stroked and they allow you to cuddle them, and their fleeces are so soft and delicate. My whole experience with these animals left me feeling  soothed and relaxed, and wanting to go back there again very soon.

This is an experience that I really do highly recommend to any animal lover, especially if you want to try something different, and especially so to any one who wants to get up close and learn a bit more about these adorable animals.

 

Let me introduce to The Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm

Lucky Tails Alpacas is a small and friendly farm run by Sarah and Stuart. Its situated in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside on the borders of Birmingham, Staffordshire and Leicestershire. It is home to some of the very best alpacas in the country. We have genetics from all around the world including an award-winning stud imported from New Zealand-SILVERSTREAM FORERUNNER OF ANZAC. We invite you to come and see for yourself.

info@luckytailsalpacafarm.co.uk

Dexter lane
Hurley
Atherstone

CV9 2JQ

 

Let me introduce you to some of the Alpacas and other animals on the farm.alpacas-4 alpacas-12 alpacas-36 alpacas-63 alpacas-88 alpacas-102 alpacas-104 alpacas-117 alpacas-177 alpacas-183 alpacas-187 alpacas-195 alpacas-197 alpacas-204 alpacas-206 alpacas-209 alpacas-214 alpacas-220 alpacas-229 alpacas-237 alpacas-255 alpacas-262 alpacas-281

My companion for the walk 'Dodge'. Delightful little fella

My companion for the walk ‘Dodge’. Delightful little fella.

alpacas-315 alpacas-325

 

Some of the other charming little animals on the farm. all left to roam around free…. what a wonderful life they have.

chickens-11 chickens-16 chickens-25

 

Not forgetting Stella……

dog-1

Stella...part of Sarah and Stuarts family.

Stella…part of Sarah and Stuarts family.

ducks-3 goats-6 lucky-tails-alpaca-farm-347

 

 

turkeys-12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, this was an amazing couple of hours, and is something I do highly recommend doing if you get the opportunity. I do however also recommend wellies and old jeans.

Stella is adorable, as are the little goats they are all very friendly, they do however like a bit of fuss and the chance to leave some muddy footprints on you.

I’m looking forward to my next visit in a couple of months time.

 

Thanks for stopping by

 

 

 

Full circle.

As I have mentioned on several occasions before, I love the spring. In spite of everything that has been going on in my personal life these last few weeks, I have tried to continue to live my life as normal as possible. Despite my recent diagnosis of diabetes, and also the surgery a couple of weeks ago,  I have tried to maintain a healthy walking/exercise regime. Although I haven’t been able to get out at the weekends with my camera, I have managed to maintain my daily routine as best as possible to and from my current job by visiting the nature reserve at the back of where I work and taking a few photos.

At the end of June last year I took up a 12 month temp work contract, at a place that is situated close by  the nature reserve. When I first stepped foot into the reserve I have to admit that at first I thought it didn’t look like much and I thought I was going to be disappointed. But I have to say the place has continued to amaze me week in and week out, throughout last summer, autumn, winter and now the spring and as we are now heading towards summer I have now almost come full circle.

I have watched it grow and develop on a daily basis. At the end of last summer I felt very annoyed when the council gardeners went in and mowed down all the waist deep grass in the meadows, I was no longer able to watch the wrens diving in and out looking for insects, or watch the variety of butterflies chasing each other over the tall grass. I have watched as many of the trees have been cut down and disappearing throughout the autumn months along the pathways and down by the river walk.  The pathway I followed at the side of the river became muddy and icy during the winter months, and the trees bare of all but a few leaves hanging on to their branches. All along the pathway the flowers and plants gave the appearance they had withered and died. I have seen so many different species of birds, some I have heard but not seen. I have continued to hand feed my little robin Buddy……and I have met his little lady. Each time I have gone into the reserve to feed him, he has as usual come to my hand taken some food then briefly flown off with the food before coming back and taking some more from me, he has continued to repeat this on a daily basis. By watching him carefully it has become obvious he has a nest where he is feeding youngsters, and I am hoping very soon he will be showing them off to me. At other times his little lady friend (who I have called Freckles) comes close by to me, but still unable to take food from my hand, so he comes to my hand and flies to her with the food, opening her mouth wide he pops the food in to her. He will do all of this several times before he finally will take some food for himself. To have made a little friend like this because of my love of nature and the trust we share between us has been an absolute joy. People walking the path have stopped to talk to me, hardly believing what they have just witnessed, the sight of a wild bird flying onto my hand and contentedly sitting their eating his food and singing to me. Then of course there are the regulars who stop and chat with me, whilst taking a short cut through the reserve, or taking their dogs for a walk, knowing why I am there each morning before and of an evening after work.

As I have walked through the reserve these past couple of weeks, Yet again I have been amazed at the new life that has sprung up, it has been growing back into its former beauty of last summer when I first started going there. Already the grass in the meadow has grown several inches high.  I have seen butterflies around on the bright warm sunny days we have so far had this month, an abundance of young birds especially great tits, blue tits and blackbirds. The sides of the pathways along the river.  in the space of just a few weeks overgrown with wild garlic, their thick carpet of wide green leaves and stark white flowers.

This place has been a huge part of my life this past 10/11 months, but unfortunately because my job contract is soon due to be come to an end, it looks like I may well have to leave all this behind, but hope that I will have the opportunity in the future to re visit the reserve  when I get the chance.  I am so going to miss my Buddy and his friendship, I only hope I get to see Buddy and Freckles babies before I have to go. In one way its sad to have come the full circle, but in another it has been wonderful to see the circle of life at my favourite nature reserve.

I know that the chances  of ever finding a job like this again that I have enjoyed so immensely and found so  challenging are so remote, and I have so enjoyed working with such a great small, but very friendly team of people and I know also the future chance of  being this close to a place of such natural beauty will all be extremely remote. For the first time in several years I also have regained some lost confidence in myself and my abilities…..just how long that will last I don’t yet know. At my age I know only too well how difficult it will be to get another job, and once again feel secure. I can only wish and hope that the lady whose job I have been covering would have made the decision  not to return to work, but instead to take the opportunity of making the very most of seeing her beautiful twin boys grow up, and like nature has her own way of nurturing, that she too could nurture her boys and see them day after day continue to grow, develop and change. I have heard so many friends in the past say, I wish I hadn’t had to go back to work so soon, I wanted to see my babies grow up a bit more, they are at the age when so many interesting and wonderful changes take place and I missed so many of them changes, I wasn’t there when my baby said mommy or daddy for the first time.

Just like nature there are so many beautiful things to see and hear at certain times.

 

 

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life












Trust in nature…..meet my Buddy!

One of my ambitions for this year was to be able to become more involved  with nature and wildlife.

My readers may recall in my December posting that I wrote about a little Robin redbreast that had become friendly at the local nature reserve close by to where I am currently working. He had decided to come and settle near me to feed each day from a bench seat, and I believed that eventually I could entice him enough to have him feed out of my hand. I had to name him of course, and after a lot of thought because he has become my little buddy….I decided to call him just that ‘Buddy’

Since the beginning of this year with a little gentle encouragement, persuasion, perseverance and patience and building up that trust between us (and of course the correct choice of food) he has done just exactly that. I have to say that I feel very privileged that this little wild bird has grown up enough to trust me and feed directly out of my hand. When I was younger I had heard stories of such things happening with others, but never thought I could achieve the same thing. Making friends with nature this way is truly amazing. People walking past have been amazed and stop to chat with me and asking how I have managed this wonderful friendship with nature.

As I enter the reserve and approach ‘his territory’, I give a few little whistles and within a matter of 15 to 20 seconds he appears there on the one of the branches. Without fail, come wind, rain, snow or sunshine, in the morning before work and after work on my way home, he is there (as am I) I place a small amount of mixture of dried meal worms, suet pellets and seeds in my hand and before I have time to fully extend my arm out he flies onto my hand and pecks at the food. Sometimes he may sit on my hand for a while, other times he flies on grabs some food, flies back on to his branch, gobbles down the morsel of food, looks at me flies back on to my hand and repeats the process several times. Once he has had enough he will fly up to the top of  ‘his’ tree and sing his little heart out.

Seeing this little guy is a wonderful addition to my daily routine even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes a day. In recent weeks however I noticed he started to act ‘a little differently’. He was taking a little longer than usual to come when I whistled him, I’ve also seen him chase other different birds from his territory if they dare show up. That is except for one other little Robin who has started to appear regularly. By watching  Buddy’s behaviour during the past 5 to 6  weeks my suspicions have been confirmed….Buddy has taken a wife!!

The other little robin appeared several  weeks ago, and I have watched Buddy take food from my hand, fly off to her and feed her. he is very attentive towards her, and is also very protective of her and will keep an eye on any other approaching birds and chase them off. Over the past 3 weeks she has started to come closer towards me, she is obviously very nervous of coming on to my hand yet, but like Buddy, given a little bit of time I’m sure that will change. To encourage her, I have made a small green cup feeder to hang off one of the branches of  Buddy’s favourite trees. Once I put a bit of the feed in there and take a couple of steps backwards, she will fly down to it, perch on the edge and take a few morsels. I’ve watched him grapple with long worms in the soil, and then with the worm in his beak fly down to his partner and give the worm to her. When I see this happen for some reason it  reminds me of the Disney film Lady and the Tramp

The two of them are never very far apart and he will come and perch on my hand to feed whilst she feeds from the cup. I have watched him from a distance perform the typical male mating ritual…. sitting in front of her, his chest all puffed out, fluttering together in mid-air, serenading her with his sweet little voice. Of course, now that spring is upon us, I guess it will be time for them to build their new nest and hopefully may be the chance of starting his own little family. It will be even more important now to feed him over the coming weeks, to ensure he is able to fly food into the nest for his little wife, and then hopefully his babies.

Spring is my favourite time of the year….new life, fresh beginnings.

 

 

Meet Buddy….

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (16)

Buddy’s new wife

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (69)

My little Buddy

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (134)

Serenading his wife

 

 

Many thanks for stopping by. Have a great day.

Hello 2016…..

It feels very strange that once again we are celebrating and ‘letting in’ another New Year. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we said goodbye to 2014 and welcomed in 2015.

As one gets older it does seem as though time passes quicker. and these past few days I have been reflecting on the past year and wondering what of the new year ahead.

For me personally 2015 has been another one of those very mixed emotional years of  joy, contentment, satisfaction, frustration, worry, uncertainty and of course sadness.

After a very uneasy start to 2015, due to ill-health resulting from some emergency surgery in the previous November, and a result of  being out of work for a few months, the year did look as though it was going to be a completely bad one. In between job seeking I turned to my photography and art to help me through the bad days.  In the early Spring things did steadily pick up when I get a temporary 3 months work contract, that unfortunately didn’t work out (and because I spoke up about and pointed out a serious H&S issue and the risk of a serious accident happening I was termed a trouble maker – then as it happens about a week before my temp contract was due to become permanent a serious accident did occur when I was not on shift,  I then happened to say to my  supervisor I’m not going to say I told you so, but didn’t I  tell you so…… and a  couple of days later just before the H&S executive was due to come in and carry out an inspection, I was very conveniently told my services were no longer needed  (although i have to say a rather pathetic excuse was used to get rid of me at the end of my contract) Had I the energy and commitment at that time to fight it as unfair dismissal then I would have, and by all accounts I would have won, but the last thing I needed at that time was more stress. My priority was to find a new job asap, so I could pay my bills.  In some ways I feel lucky that I did leave because despite my insistence about improving H&S they were not interested and I felt in a way it was good to be removed from that danger.  So by late June I was out of work again, but fortunately within 48 hours after a job interview I found myself sitting behind a new desk in a new office and looking at  fresh new challenges, meeting new people and making new friends.

In many ways I feel very lucky in that respect, even though the job is not the easiest one, it is interesting, it is within a very specialized industry (its main manufacturing site based near Paris in France) and as a result it is challenging and at times can be frustrating and stressful. But I have to say overall I really do love my current job and the people I work with and my clients, and only wish it was for keeps instead of just a 12 months contract. I am now half way through my 12 months contract and unless I am really very fortunate that the young lady whose job I am covering doesn’t come back from maternity leave, then I will have to leave and face even more new uncertainties in this summer.  My only hope now is that the young lady who has had gorgeous twin boys decides that her life is best spent seeing and watching her sons grow up and develop instead of coming back to work.

I have learned a huge amount in such a few short months, and I know there is a lot more to learn in the coming months. Working with Excel formulas is now an automatic daily task and I routinely work with several different formula based spreadsheets,  where as before although I have worked with Excel spreadsheets it was never as in-depth as what I am doing now. It is extremely challenging and the work has to be very accurate and as my colleague keeps telling me ‘reconciliation Sue reconciliation’  which is vital in this role. So in nutshell, one really good thing has come out of this, it has given me much more experience to add to my CV when I have to go job hunting again later in the year, and I have also found that in some areas of the job it has helped to give me more confidence, something I have needed to gain back in such a long time

The rest of the year has had its usual ups and downs. I had to face more surgery in October which had left me with a serious complication from last years surgery in November for an abscess.  I have to go back and see the consultant in a few weeks time and if the results of that are good, then that will be another step in the right direction and another problem out of my way.

I am hoping to treat myself to a holiday this spring, there have been several places I have been wanting to visit and have never had the chance. One of the areas I have wanted to visit for many years is along our South East coast, especially  Wareham near Dorset where I would love to see Monkey World and the incredible work they do there. The chance to go there with my camera would be exceptional. The world of primates and their behaviour is something else that has always fascinated me. There are also some other fascinating places along that coast I would love to see, such as the  Jurassic Coast in Dorset as well as Bournemouth, Swanage, Portsmouth, Southampton and then the inner counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxford, there is so much out there that I would love to explore.

Where I am working at the moment, I have been very fortunate that we are right close by a local nature reserve, as a result of this, although I wasn’t  able to have had a holiday again in 2015 it has meant I have been able to get out and about to local places with my camera and brush up on my photography skills which in turn has increased my passion in wildlife photography and bird watching and scenery.  This is again something I would very much like to expand on this year given the right chance to pursue it, and perhaps even enter a few photo competitions. I even made a new friend in the reserve, a little Robin who now allows me to come right up to him within about 3 to 4 feet away and let me take photos of him. In addition to this I leave him a little bit of fat ball and bird seed ( and I found out a few months ago he is partial to a few odd crumbs of a well know brand of digestive biscuits) In more recent weeks I have been gradually getting him to come onto my hand and feed off me that way, he flutters above my hand, but is still not quite sure yet.  This will be a challenge for me over the coming weeks, to get him to trust me enough to come and settle on my hand to feed.

 

KNNR - DEC 2015 (2)KNNR - DEC 2015 (16) KNNR - DEC 2015 (51) KNNR - DEC 2015 (3)

The one thing I am really thankful for (that despite two very severe angina attacks that my father suffered in the lead up to Christmas week, both were severe enough to put him in hospital for a couple of days at a time) that he has come out the other side of it and is still with is. He still isn’t out of the woods yet, and has a long way to go with having to see a consultant cardiologist this month and having more tests and some changes to his heart medication, but it was a relief and it was so good that he was out of hospital in time to be able to spend Christmas day with us at my brother and sister in-laws, despite not feeling too good still.  Over the last two to three years, Christmas has become more precious to me in certain ways, because it means another one where the family can as a complete unit spend time together. It isn’t about who can buy the best presents or who spends the most money, it’s most importantly about family time. Throughout most of  the year our lives are so busy, that we tend to have very little time to celebrate until it’s such an occasion as Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I always see members of my family throughout the year, but for us all to sit around the same table on Christmas day and share the meal, a couple of drinks and some chatter is for me very special. It is as people have said to me over the years we only ever get to see the entire family of aunts, uncles, cousins together if it is a wedding, special birthday celebration or a funeral.

I am looking forward to 2016 in some ways, in other ways I am being very cautious, I do have goals that I would like to reach, I look forward to new and hopefully exciting challenges, and at the same time i would like to find more inner peace and contentment. I hope and pray that wars and terrorism will cease, and I hope that the year ahead will be better and brighter for everyone.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and may you find happiness, good health and peace and may the year ahead be a brighter one.

 

 

Year

Happy, Happy New Year!
We wish you all the best,
Great work to reach your fondest goals,
And when you’re done, sweet rest.

We hope for your fulfillment,
Contentment, peace and more,
A brighter, better new year than
You’ve ever had before.

By Joanna Fuchs

INDIAN BLUE PEAFOWL - DUDLEY ZOO - FEB 2015 (143) Edit

Happy New Year 2016 – photo created by Sootykins/ Sue Westwood Photography (C) 2015

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

Welcome to Autumn in all its glory.

It seems strange that a mere few weeks ago we were enjoying our summer season.  For a little over 3 months now I have been enjoying my summer morning and evening walks at the reserve close by to where I currently work. Breathing in all that calm, relaxing and intoxicating fresh air, and listening to all of those summery sounds and the chattering birds, and always in pursue with my camera trying to capture the more unusual  birds and animals.

During the past 2 weeks I have gradually notice that the lush green meadows and deep green leaves on the trees have gradually given way to the deep glowing oranges and reds and then brown leaves and of course with that comes the bare trees. But what a beautiful and stunning transformation this has been. With the changing of the seasons I have witnessed mother nature at her best and her worst.

I have been able to see more closely the remaining smaller birds flitting in and out of the trees and nestling for just a moment or two, giving me that extra chance to photograph them. I have even made friends with a little Robin redbreast, who will fly down to me on his tree trunk, he knows he will get some wild bird seed and a bit of fat ball from me, on the odd occasion a tiny bit of digestive biscuit, which I have found out he is quite partial to, and because of this in more recent weeks it has made me aware of how nature needs to survive in the changing seasons.

Despite the change in the weather, the cooler temperature and the evenings getting darker quicker, it is still pleasant to see the sunshine out for a while. I love to see the  light of the sun shimmering through the trees and see the beautiful rich golden and red colours than the leaves have turned to. This time of the year for me is ‘soothing’.

 

KNNR SCENEREY - FLORA OCT 2015 (175)
KNNR SCENEREY - FLORA OCT 2015 (153)KNNR SCENEREY - FLORA OCT 2015 (143)

Autumn landscape in all its glory.

KNNR SCENEREY - FLORA OCT 2015 (104)

 

 

 

———————————————————————————–
Change Of Seasons.
The Summer season gradually fades away,
Nature’s way of bidding a humble farewell to all.
A change is seen as the leaves fade in unison
As the beautiful Autumn season comes to call.
                    —————————
September – the sounds in the garden are quiet now,
The song birds are no longer to be found.
Flying high up in the cloudy sky,
Many feathered friends are southward bound.
                      —————————-
October – the trees are covered with tantalizing colors
Of red and gold and yellow and even brown,
And crimson, too, in a multitude of fashion
The leaves come wafting down.
                      ——————————-
November – fringed with frost and nippy cold,
The fading days of Autumn are everywhere.
A quiet state of melancholy days
With signs of a changing season in the air.
                       ——————————–
December – All of a sudden the winds of winter blow,
The falling snow begins to pile high.
We are delighted for the bounty Autumn has provided,
Uttering words of thank you – with an appreciative sigh.
                       ——————————–
Joseph T Renaldi.
Many thanks for stopping by.

The woods are alive with the sound of bird song.

Over this past three of months since starting my new job, I have been very fortunate to be able to visit almost every single working day the local nature reserve in Kings Norton, Birmingham, which is situated a mere 4 to 5 minutes walk from my office.

This place has really amazed me. I love nature, and over the last couple of years I have become more and more interested in bird watching. Being a little restricted on where I can travel to on public transport has been somewhat awkward and in some ways a little frustrating but it hasn’t prevented me from pursuing my love and interest of our British Wildlife.

There are several entrances in and out of different section of the reserve and to see a couple of the entrances from the busy main roads into this local reserve, you wouldn’t think much of it, but once you are a couple of minutes walking into the reserve then you start to get that feel good factor happening. It’s also an ideal place to spend an hour or so after finishing work, before going home, which means as an added bonus, especially during these summer months, I get to avoid the traffic congestion through Birmingham city centre.

Each morning, because of having to time my bus connections into work, it means I am sometimes about 30 to 40 early and so getting off my bus I pop along into the nature reserve with my camera. Each morning I have been greeted by the various different sounds and songs of the array of different species of our British birds, some of which are hard to see, but you can sometimes make out from the distinctive sounds what species they are. When ever I walk through this one area of woods in the reserve it literally is alive with the sound of bird song. And if you watch closely, you can see the birds darting in and out of the trees and bushes, as well as feeding in the long meadow grass.  Other days on the leafless branches of higher trees you can spot a bird sitting their singing his little heart out. I’m afraid to say this, but the boys are by far better at singing than the girls when it comes to birds, as is the colour of their plumage. This may well have something to do with the fact boys need to show off more in order to try and prove they are the more dominant of the species 😉

I’m no expert when it comes to bird watching, neither am I an expert at bird sounds, far from it in fact, I am just a mere beginner, but I have been able to see a bird hear its song or just simply the type of noise it makes, photograph it, identify it and know from that when I next hear it I will know what it is. It’s a great way of learning about bird watching.

What I also love about this place is that apart from the usual Blackbirds, Robins, Blue Tits, Starlings, Sparrows, Pigeons and Magpies that we tend to see every day, I am now discovering more different birds that I wouldn’t normally get to see near home. I have always had a deep interest in our garden birds, but like a lot of other things in life, these little creatures are always about and I suppose what many of us see on a day-to-day basis is what we take for granted and think that a bird is just a bird.  But I love to walk through there and listen to all the bird chatter and singing, and I swear they are sometimes conversing which each other. A couple of weeks ago I saw a Buzzard circling overhead, but to far a way to get a clear photo. The river Rhea runs along side the reserve, although in many area it is overgrown, with tree’s heavily laden with berries, and tons of different insects, it is an ideal home for many of our British birds and wildlife, it offers them good protection and an endless supply of natural food.

In recent weeks I have discovered Wrens, Nuthatches, various different Tits and Finches, Goldcrests,  Jays, Great Spotted Woodpeckers,  Green Woodpeckers,  Warblers, Thrushes. Treecreepers and close by at the adjoining Wychall Reservoir  a Grey Heron, and on two days I have caught a short glimpse of a Kingfisher, but alas, way far too quick for me to photograph……..(as yet anyway!) This is a big challenge I am setting myself.

In addition to all the birds, I have spotted an array of other wildlife such as Butterflies, Dragonflies, Crickets, and a quick glimpse of a Shrew, Fox and of course what woodland would not be complete without our comical little grey Squirrel. And although I am not 100% sure yet, one evening I am certain I spotted a Pipistrelle Bat. And in addition to all of this there are also many different wildflowers and trees. This place is just so magical for me, especially in these summer months. For me it is a little bit of England’s green and pleasant land.

But I am also looking forward to the coming months as the seasons are changing, the leaves will be falling off the trees and the birds that remain will be hopefully easier to spot and photograph.

Each day has been a little bit different to the last one, the weather condition dictate what birds are out and about on certain days and clearly visible to those that prefer to stay hidden. But this nature reserve really amazes me, the sounds of the birds singing can be so soothing at the end of a challenging day at work.

I have been fortunate to get right up close to several Robins in different parts of the reserve, who one minute are making a chattering noise and then with a little bit of enticement with bird grain they start to sing their little hearts out for me and will very confidently perch themselves on a lower branch, or tree trunks and show off their beautiful red breast strutting around ready for the camera.

The reserve is also a very popular place for local dog walkers, joggers and especially as a short cut for people on their way to and from work. Several locals have now got used to seeing me with my camera, we stop and chat, and they let me know if they have spotted something unusual and where about they have spotted it. This gives me the chance to further investigate and add even more photos to my collection.

When you cross over from the main section of the reserve that I visit, on to Wychall Lane, there is another very large part of the reserve which I have yet to visit properly. Problem being is that for people who like myself love nature and photography, there is just so much to see in the one area of the reserve that I get little time to go across Wychall Lane to the other section.

I am so looking forward to the changes to be seen in this coming Autumn season, for me it is just as appealing as Summer. So many wonderful and  colourful changes take place, so many different birds and creatures change their habits.                     

           

Natures Way.                  

Upon a nice mid-spring day,
Let’s take a look at Nature’s way,
Breathe the scent of nice fresh air,
Feel the breeze within your hair.
The grass will poke between your toes,
Smell the flowers with your nose,
Clouds form shapes within the skies,
And light will glisten from your eyes.
Hear the buzzing of the bees,
Climb the tallest willow trees,
Look across the meadow way,
And you shall see a young deer play.
Pick the daisies as they grow,
Watch a gentle cold stream flow,
Know the sounds of water splash,
Catch its glimmer in a flash.
When altogether all seems sound,
Lay yourself upon the ground,
Take a moment to inhale,
And listen to Nature tell her tale…

    Heidi Campbell       

Nat

Heidi Campbell sums up nature in the best way possible, by allowing your senses to understand nature and what it has to offer.

 Breathe the scent of nice fresh air – Feel the breeze within your hair – Smell the flowers with your nose – Hear the buzzing of the bees – Watch a gentle cold stream flow

 

Below are a selection of a few of my favourite photos I have taken in the reserve these past three months, I hope you enjoy them.

KNNR - JULY 2015 (2188) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1803) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1767)KNNR - JULY 2015 (1756) KNNR - JULY 2015 (598)KNNR - JULY 2015 (357)KNNR - JULY 2015 (1682) KNNR - JULY 2015 (538) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1267) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1332) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1554) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1567) KNNR - JULY 2015 (1631) KNNR - JULY 2015 (292) KNNR - JULY 2015 (166) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (423) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (396) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (352) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (222) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (280) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (289) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (325) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (349) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (341) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (208)Although I hate spiders, i have to marvel at the intricacy of the details within their webs. I spotted a few on my walk one morning last week after we had a fog and dew.KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (172)KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (349)

KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (166) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (159) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (345) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (12) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (182) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (175) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (171) KNNR - BEES - SEPT 2015 (19) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (51) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (124) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (136) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1931) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1478) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1393) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1404) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1373) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1342) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1329) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1304) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1194) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (803) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (765) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (726) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (698) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (612) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (580) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (575) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (294) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (90) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (41)      KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (276)        KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (1404)

KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (259) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (247) KNNR - BIRDS - SEPT 2015 (203) KNNR - FLORA & SCENERY - SEPT 2015 (51) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (484) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (479) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (468) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (467) KNNR - AUGUST 2015 (480)

All photos are the copyrights of Sue Westwood Photography 2015.

 

Many thanks for stopping by.