Thursday, 18 August 2016

Walking From Glenridding to Howtown, Ullswater, Lake District

Last Friday I returned from a lovely week's holiday at the lake Ullswater in the Lake District. We stayed in a charming old cottage with stunning gardens which I will be blogging about next. Today I would like to share our first and longest walk of the holiday.

Ullswater is the second largest of the Lakeland's lakes and meres, and arguably the most beautiful of the English lakes. It is often compared to Switzerland's Lake Lucerne. It is a "narrow ribbon lake" formed as glaciers gouged out the valley floor during the last Ice Age.

When you look at a visitor map of Ullswater one of the first things you notice is that there are steamer trips spanning the length of the lake with three stops. You can have a ride the full length of the route or you can hop on and off at the three piers. Of course, going on the steamer was a must, and we opted to go on a linear walk between two of the stops -  Glenridding and Howtown and then take the steamer back. It was a 7 mile walk, mainly on an undulating, sometimes rather steep and rocky path.

I took this from the road near Glenridding pier at the start of our walk. It is a common Lakes scene, but too beautiful to take for granted.

Another typical, delightful Lake District view: one or two white houses nestling at the bottom of a mountain with the lake in the foreground.

We soon got onto a track leading to a farm.....

........and the views all around us were wonderful.

The charming Side Farm. Loved the pink flowers behind the dry stone wall. We passed through its stable yard where there was an inviting tea room, but we didn't stop - there were still quite a few miles of walk ahead of us.

We continued along this track for quite a while. No, we didn't climb the ladders to go over the wall, I just liked the way they looked in the setting, and the light.

There were many breathtaking views of the lake and its islands from the path to the left.

The combination of moss and dry stone wall always catches my eye.

At times the lake would disappear from the view, but the landscape remained very beautiful......

There was a lot of cloud about, and the light was constantly changing from sunny to moody. It was pretty much my favourite sort of day for photography.

I liked the frame with a mixture of scattered isles and rowing boats on the lake surface.....

........and then one with a Lakeland Herdwick sheep in the foreground and the Ullswater steamer in the distance...

As we were now descending to the lakeshore the sun came out fully, and I was regaled to this lovely pastoral scene. Just love the sheep. light, colours and the background here.

Couldn't resist a little play with my Jessica Drossin textures on this one.

The perspective, vegetation and whole scenery was changing as the path was getting flatter .....

.......and we finally reached the water's edge. My loyal friend Liz can be seen on the very right in the turquoise top waiting for me (yet again) to take that "perfect" shot.

After a quick rest and a very welcome refreshment at the nearby pub at Howtown we boarded the steamer at Howtown jetty and were on our way back to Glenridding.

It was so very windy and draughty on the ferry, and cold too as temperatures were generally way too low for August, that my camera very soon got put away. I'd planned on taking pics throughout the half an hour cruise, but this shot of the boathouse with some mellow light on the hillside behind was the last one I took on the outing.

We arrived at Glenridding weary, windblown and and in need of something invigorating, so we decided to head straight away for the comfort of the lovely cottage we were staying at. We had a great day - a very good and satisfying start to our holiday.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Summer at the Cheerful Chilli, Otley

The Cheerful Chilli is just the sort of place I've always wanted to come across. Even its name states something I love - there is always chillies in my fridge, and they never last very long! But there is so much more to this gorgeous, definitely cheerful place than its name suggests. It is a most charming, converted stone farmhouse; it sits high up above Otley, one of my favourite towns, adjacent to the beautiful Chevin Forest Park; it serves very tasty and healthy, vegetarian food in a relaxing, rustic setting; and it embraces seasons through its lovely garden and country surroundings.

I have been here twice recently - first, at the beginning of July, on a beautiful sunny day. I was in the lovely company of my niece and her partner, so I was not taking many photos. We just enjoyed the wonderful place and a delicious lunch. Then I went back the other day with the sole purpose of getting some more pics. On this occasion it was rather windy and overcast, but the lighting conditions were almost perfect for creative post processing. So in editing some of the pics I took the opportunity to play with my new Jessica Drossin's Dreamy Cloud Overlays.

I instantly fell in love with this building. When I first saw it I felt like a kid in a sweet shop because I knew there were going to be some photos right up my street. This one was taken from the car park which is on a raised level, making for some lovely viewpoints of the house. I am quite pleased with a rather mystic mood I ended up with here.

The flowers around the Chilli were stunning; full marks to the gardener! I just love this foreground with all the gorgeous summer blooms.

A few steps to the right and there is a similar shot with different but equally delightful foreground.

The farmhouse courtyard is used as the outside eating area. The Chilli was closed on the day. It only opens in the evening on weekdays, so I had the whole place to myself. It was a bliss spending an hour or so exploring and photographing the place in peace and quiet.

This must be the most delightful scene I have seen this summer. I had to use it as the cover photo of my Facebook page. Simply love the old door in the stone wall with the cottage garden display in front.

The contrast of pink and purple flowers against the stone wall caught my eye....

.....and I beamed at this glorious floral abundance above the courtyard wall, a sheer celebration of the season.

There were so many good shots in one small place, a real heaven for a photographer like me. I couldn't resist taking a shot with the isolated table on the right, immersed in colourful flowers, and a cute little window above.

 The restaurant/tea rooms consists of several small, cosy rooms with intimate atmosphere.

To the left of the farmhouse there is a barn that can be hired for various events and celebrations!! And beyond the barn all you can see are sweeping views of beautiful countryside.

There were a couple of lovely flowerpots tastefully placed outside the barn door....

.......and another little corner of summer behind the barn -  more feast for the eyes.

Oh, Cheerful Chilli, where have you been all my life?!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Beatrix Potter: 150th Birthday Anniversary

2016 sees big birthday anniversaries of two of the Victorian women whose life and work have long been a constant source of inspiration to me: 200th birthday of Charlotte Bronte back on 21st April, which I marked with a personal tribute here, and 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter on 28th July.

“What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood?” 
~Beatrix Potter~

Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943) was an amazing woman who managed to accomplish her goals in an era when ambitious women were still firmly discouraged from becoming successful. She is best known for her children's stories about animals, especially "Peter Rabbit", which she beautifully illustrated herself. However, her talent and achievements did not end there. She was a natural scientist; a farmer winning prizes for breeding Herdwick sheep which are a common and distinctive sight in the Lake District where she lived; she was a shrewd business woman who bought and managed a number of local farms and a considerable amount of land; she was passionate about conservation and left a large estate to the National Trust after her death.

I love the Lake District, and go there at least once a year. And every time I am there I like to think about Beatrix and her life, and go for walks involving places associated with her. The most fascinating of all is, of course, the "Hill Top", the farmhouse she bought with the proceeds of sales of her first book "The tale of Peter Rabbit". Apparently she never lived at the Hill Top but she wrote some of her stories there. She did furnish it like a home, and a very inspirational one. Today it remains as she left it, and is a busy museum where timed tickets are issued. I just love coming here and looking around not just the house but the gardens too. And the whole village of Near Sawrey, where the cottage is situated, breathes the presence of Beatrix and her animal characters through various sites used in her stories.

Earlier this year, during a week's stay in Grasmere, I went to see the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Bowness on the Windermere lake for the first time. The establishment  itself is celebrating a special anniversary this year - 25 years of the day it first opened its doors to the public. It's a magical exhibition place where Beatrix's much loved characters are brought to life. I thought I would share some of the photos I took back in February as part of my tribute to Beatrix for her big birthday anniversary. All photos are quick snapshots taken with my mobile android phone, and were given just a basic edit in Lightroom.

A figure of Beatrix as a young woman with a couple of her animal characters by her side near the entrance to the exhibition.

Old Mrs Rabbit, the mother of Peter Rabbit and his siblings Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail

Peter Rabbit, Beatrix's first and most famous character, a naughty rabbit who goes into Mr McGregor's garden and helps himself to some of the vegetables.

Mr McGregor is planting out cabbages at the moment he spots Peter Rabbit in his garden.

Jemima Puddle-Duck, a naive but endearing duck who decides to build a nest away from the farm she lives on.

A cunning fox whom Jemima meets in the nearby wood, and who lets her build a nest in his comfortable woodshed.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in her kitchen, the adorable hedgehog, a short and plump woman who washes and irons the clothes for the animals.

Mr Tod, the disagreeable fox, the arch enemy of the badger called Tommy Brock.

The table set for a meal in Mr Tod's kitchen.

Tommy Brock , the badger, sleeping in Mr Tod's bed with a pail of water balanced over his head by Mr Tod who hoped to play a trick upon Tommy.

Mr Jeremy Fisher taking a break from fishing to eat a sandwich sitting on his lily pad boat.

Mr Jeremy Fisher is seized by a huge trout and pulled into the water. He manages to escape and invites his friends to dinner.

A scene created by the illustration from "The Tale of Pigling Bland"

Two soulmate piglets from "The Tale of Pigling Bland".

A life size figure of Beatrix in her later life. She liked to be called "Mrs Heelis" at this stage of her life being happily married to the respected local solicitor William Heelis.

Me and Mrs Heelis. Just could not resist!

Beatrix's timeless tales never lost their popularity and continue to be enjoyed by children all over the world.
For anyone wishing to know more about this fascinating woman I strongly recommend Margaret Lane's biography "The Tale of Beatrix Potter" and the movie "Miss Potter" starring Renee Zellweger.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Zagreb Photo Sale

Just a quick post from a very happy woman. Last night I learned I had sold a royalty free license to the image below. It is my very first sale of a photo of my beloved native town Zagreb. That is great news for me because I don't live there anymore and therefore have very little opportunity to take pics over there. The photo sold in Austria through Getty Images. That is all the information I have. Unfortunately, the sale statement doesn't tell me by who or for what purpose the image has been bought.  I have previously published the image on my blog here.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Still Life With Flat Peaches

Time for a seasonal still life. I have been eyeing flat peaches in the local supermarket every summer since they first appeared a few years ago. I am always looking for unusual and interesting shapes I can study through my still life work. I can just concentrate on the shape, colours and textures, and keep the composition simple and minimal. For my props I used an old enamel plate my Mum gave me and also one of her old tea towels which I just had to take away from her. A little sprig of basil leaves gives a finishing touch to the set up.

I like to use texture layers in the post processing of my still life images, usually to create a rustic, country look. Here I applied a texture from the recently bought pack by Jessica Drossin, called "Wuthering Heights" which is a famous book title by Emily Bronte. Being a huge fan of the Bronte sisters I was delighted to see Jessica has created textures inspired by her visit to historic Ponden Hall and the moors that the sisters loved and roamed. I just can't wait to try these textures on my other work, particularly Haworth and the Bronte Country. As to my flat peaches I also played with Jessica's Fine Art Tints, hence the lovely, warm and hazy brownish tone to the image.