Return of the Orchid

In February 2016 I bought myself an orchid. It was beautiful. In the past I’ve had orchids and enjoyed their flowers, but once they stopped flowering I’d forget about them. Then later I’d remember but they were shrivelled and dead. This year I amazed myself by taking care of my orchid through all those months until it actually started to grow new buds! Yesterday morning the first bud was opening, and this morning it is fully open and looking lovely. I am proud of myself 🙂

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I don’t think I have ‘green fingers’, but maybe this time they are slightly  green!

Inspired by my Orchid, and also by the Weekly Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green!

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Droplets on Catkins

Admittedly these may not be the obvious things that spring to mind for most people when thinking about the topic of ‘a good match’, but as I glanced through recent photos these leapt out at me.

At this time of year, if there is sunshine after the rain, there’s a good chance of capturing some beautiful droplets as they rest on the Willow catkins in my garden. They look so good together. Fluffy white catkins, and sparkling jewelled droplets. The droplets seem to defy gravity. Perhaps the hairs on the catkins help them stay put.

I think they are a very good match 🙂

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: a good match

Springtime

Spring is a lovely time of year. It’s still cold and it may seem that there’s not much to see, but if you look hard you can find lots of lovely signs of hope. Sometimes it can feel like it has been winter forever, but against all the odds, the spring comes again. Flowers start to show themselves even though temperatures still dip quite low, and everything begins again. In the last few weeks the Snowdrops and Crocuses have been appearing, as well as Celandines and Daisies. And the first few Daffodils too. It makes me so happy to see them emerging – little splashes of colour and hope, lighting up my world.

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Dainty Snowdrop covered with raindrops
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Snowdrop neighbours
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Golden Crocus seems to glow
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Delicate lilac Crocus with beautifully contrasting stamens
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Bright orange stigma and stamens
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Celandine like a drop of sunshine
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Humble Daisy
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Elegant Daffodil

This post was inspired by springtime and by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds.

Solitude

Solitude is something I crave at times. I don’t enjoy crowds and noise. I don’t enjoy having to make small talk. Some days I just don’t want to be around people at all! So when I thought about solitude the first things I thought of were quiet walks in the countryside, or sitting quietly crocheting or reading. But how to sum that up in a photo?

Then my mind jumped to Solitary Bees … who unlike Bumblebees and Honeybees, live alone, in solitude, rather that in a big hive. My kind of bees, I guess 🙂

Here’s some photos I’ve taken of Solitary Bees.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude.

Grace in Petals

I’m looking forward to spring and the arrival of insects and flowers. In the meantime I’m remembering the summer and some beautiful graceful flowers I saw down in Compton Acres in Dorset.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

Transformed by Light

A change in the light can transform the world.

Simple windows wouldn’t be so interesting without the glow of the sunset reflected in them.

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A distant Red Kite wouldn’t make much of a photo but silhouetted against a golden sky, maybe the photo is worth saving.

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The glow of sunshine in the forest highlights every detail of a fern.

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Or an ordinary insect becomes something magical.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience.

I like to give things names …

I like to find the names of things. I’m not usually satisfied to title a photo ‘blue flower’ or ‘some kind of insect’. I like names. Sometimes it takes me ages to figure out what something is called, scouring various websites trying to match my plant or creature to one described.

Here are some of the things I’ve had to find names for over the last year. Most of them are things that were new to me this year, or if I’d seem them before I hadn’t found out what they were called. It’s always surprising that even though I generally stick to visiting the same areas again and again, I can still find something new!

By the way if you think any of my IDs are incorrect, please let me know – I’m always learning 🙂

Turkeytail Fungus (Trametes versicolor)
Turkeytail Fungus (Trametes versicolor)
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Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)
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Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)
Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar
Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar
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Black Darter dragonfly (female)
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Black Darter dragonfly (male)
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Emerald Damselfly (male)
Sand Wasp
Sand Wasp
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Pale Toadflax (Linaria repens)
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
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Silver Y Moth (brown colour form) – Autographa gamma
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Buff Footman Moth

 

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Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)
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Bumblebee-mimicking Hoverfly (Volucella bombylans)
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Lacewing
Six-Spot Burnet Moth caterpillar
Six-Spot Burnet Moth caterpillar

 

4-spotted Chaser
4-spotted Chaser dragonfly
Green Hairstreak butterfly - Callophrys rubi
Green Hairstreak butterfly – Callophrys rubi
Green Tiger Beetle
Green Tiger Beetle
Bogbean
Bogbean
Thistle Tortoise Beetle - Cassida rubiginosa
Thistle Tortoise Beetle – Cassida rubiginosa
Yellow Ophion
Yellow Ophion

If you find yourself trying to identify a plant or creature, here are some really useful websites to help you. These are only relevant if you’re in the UK. I’m sure there are equivalent websites elsewhere though.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Names. I went a little off topic as it said:

This week, share a photo that includes a name… Whatever you choose, make sure we can read the name!

No actual names visible in my photos I’m afraid, but they do have names 🙂

2016 Top 10

I thought I’d see what the usual WordPress Year in Review said about what went on here in 2016 … but there isn’t one this year for some reason. So instead I looked up my stats myself and here are my top 10 posts from the year. Hope you like seeing the featured photos from the posts again.

All of the photos are of wonderful natural areas, creatures and flowers, which can be seen year after year as the seasons continue to roll. They have such resilience, and I look forward to spotting the damsels, dragons, spring flowers, butterflies and ferns as 2017 unfurls.

If you want to read a post, just click the title (clicking the photo will let you see a larger version of the photo).

I think my personal favourite is number 5 when I witnessed brand new damselflies emerging by my garden pond 🙂 Feel free to let me know your favourite if you like.

  1. The Simpler the Better
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  2. Seeing the Future in a Flowering Currant
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  3. Spring will come
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  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Time
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  5. Privilege
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  6. Light and Gentle
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  7. Tasty Treats?
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  8. Fluctuating State of Mind
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  9. Pure Joy
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  10. Unfurling
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Thank you for reading during 2016 🙂 Happy New Year! May 2017 be a peaceful, happy and hopeful year for you and yours.

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Inspired by the turning of the year and by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient.

Season’s Blessings

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields.

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And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;

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May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.

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May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

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May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.

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May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.

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May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus, too.
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.

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Words from various Irish blessings found around the internet. Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Confidence

If I could give myself a Christmas gift this year, I think it would the gift of confidence. Not over-confidence and arrogance, but just enough confidence in myself to not feel stupid, embarrassed and not good enough. I find it very hard to believe in myself and my abilities. Even though there are many of you following my blog, I still feel like I’m not good enough. I don’t want to be ‘fishing for compliments’ as they say, just explaining myself. This pondering was brought on by the Weekly Photo Challenge this week – New Horizon:

This week, we’re challenging you to think ahead and show your work in a representative photo. If you set New Year’s resolutions, give them some thought a few weeks early. If resolutions aren’t your style, show us something that you want to achieve — it could be setting a new goal, making plans, or even tackling that pile of laundry waiting by the washer. The goal is to get out of the busy “now,” and imagine your new horizon. Go!

It coincides with a conversation I had recently about the need to be more assertive and stand up for myself, and believe I am good enough at things to deserve recognition for that. I want to be that person, but it’s so hard for me. I want to achieve this confidence and assertiveness, without bringing anyone else down, or being arrogant, or ‘blowing my own trumpet’. I think that balance must be hard, but I would like to move more towards the centre rather than being down at my end where there isn’t much confidence at all.

I was picking some photos to add to my ponderings and for no particular reason I chose this photo of a sheep. She appears to be making faces at me. Perhaps she’s trying to be encouraging!

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I also chose this robin, who finally sat still long enough for me to get a photo of him a while back. I may not be a ‘robin whisper’ but I do have persistence and patience and get that shot in the end.

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A big aspect of needing confidence in photography is when you take photos of people. Insects, birds and flowers don’t really threaten your confidence directly – only in your self-critical analysis of the photos you take. But when you take pictures of people there is a risk that they think your photos are rubbish. So it takes confidence for me to be brave enough to take photos of people riding, other than my daughter, and to dare to suggest the they might buy a copy if they’d like a larger version. I find myself trying not to say ‘oh they’re not very good, I’m sure they’re not worth paying for’. But there are some lovely people who have a bought one or two so my confidence is gradually creeping up in that area.

Here are a few recent photos from a show jumping competition:

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I can already feel myself being self-critical. Oh the lighting wasn’t great, and maybe the balance isn’t right. The pony is too low down in the frame… etc. But I am trying to have confidence in myself.

I often find myself like this ladybird. Out on my own and not quite fitting in. But I am unique and interesting in my own way. So why worry that I’m different? Easy to say but less easy to achieve. Good luck to all in their endeavours to achieve whatever it is you are wishing for.

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In the spirit of confidence, if you are interested in my photography equipment, I’ve created a page about what I use so please take a look if you would like to now more about that.

Soothing Light

I was looking for photos on the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of ‘relax’. Initially I tried to capture my cat relaxing with my daughter, but being a black cat, he’s not terribly photogenic I find, and this was the best I could do:

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So I started thinking about a different approach. Rather than something or someone looking relaxed, what photos just make me feel relaxed? Looking through my images, it seems that the ones I find relaxing are images with light and warmth. Others make me excited, happy, nostalgic, etc. etc. but these are the ones that make me feel relaxed. So here are some images full of light and warmth that I hope you will find relaxing too:

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I started writing this post earlier and then decided to see if I could capture some of the sunset to add to the photos of warmth and light. I realised that winter sunsets are not quite in the right place to see from our village as the sun goes down behind a hill instead of a gap between hills like in the summer. But I got some nice shots of the lovely sky.

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Frosty Leaves

Yesterday morning, there was a frost and all the fallen leaves were looking pretty with a frosty coating. Sums up this time of year of autumn moving into winter, with the autumn leaves and the cold frost.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without…