Every April, I head out to Longleat Safari Park with my friend and her family for their little boy’s birthday. This year he was 7 and he was still as excited to see the animals as he was the first time we went! He has always liked animals from when he was very young and he always leaves the park with a new cuddly toy of his favourite animals of the day – this year it was the red panda and cheetah.
We were so lucky with the weather – the week before Storm Katie had gone through and it looked as though the weekend we were due to meet would be wet too, but thankfully it turned for the better and we had a glorious Spring day.
I know a lot of people don’t like zoos / safari parks because animals are caged etc. – in some situations I agree but in others I don’t. They are a great way for children and also adults to see and more importantly, learn about the animals on our planet and hopefully lead them to want to help and support our wild animals.
Happy New Year! I know most people post New Year messages on the last day of the year but I thought I’d be a little different!
I have decided to change things a little bit this year so wanted to let you know of my intentions. Last year, I set myself a schedule for adding posts – yes, it increased my content on the previous year but it also added pressure to get posts online! When my day job took over and I didn’t post on time, I felt I’d let myself and you down. So this year, I don’t have a schedule! I have a rough plan and when blogs are completed they will go online. This may mean two posts in one month and then nothing the next. However, I am hoping that the freeness will actually help me post more!
I am looking to continue with my seasonal posts (Autumn being added soon) but am not so sure about the iPhone posts…I’m thinking I might add individual images to OKDOTHIS / Twitter and maybe do a 6 monthly round up post instead!
If there is anything you would like me to post or would like to see more of, let me know in the comments below 🙂
I won’t lie, winter is always holiday time as accommodation is cheaper and the beaches are all but empty! 2013’s vacation was Newcastle Emlyn in West Wales. We splashed out a little and rented a lovely spacious farm cottage 🙂
Penbryn was a lovely beach, wide open space and hidden caves. The only other people around were local dog walkers. I always look for beaches / areas that have interesting features and the waterfall on the beach at Tresaith was very pretty. One of the rock formations at Cilborth looked rather like a dragon in my mind, but I guess we were in Wales 😉
The only problem with Wales is the weather but I guess you could say that for the whole of the UK! Unfortunately, one of the days was so stormy that there was little point leaving the cottage as we would have just got soaking wet. Luckily I always go prepared and a DVD collection saved the day.
One thing to remember when visiting Wales is they do not provide you with carrier bags in shops, so keep one tucked away in your bag or it could be a difficult trip back to the car with your groceries!
The last time I was looking online for campsites I came across Greenfields Forest Camping a 10 pitch site in the Dorset countryside. It sounded perfect, camp in amongst the trees with geese running around, all the natural wildlife in the woodland and the deer that the owners keep in the field next door.
We decided to make a booking at the end of the season, keeping our fingers crossed for good weather. When we arrived we were cheerfully met by Foo one of the owners, who gave us a choice of whichever pitch we liked as we were the only ones booked in on our first night.
Sleeping in a forest was great, complete darkness apart from the full moon and although I thought the noises of the forest would keep me awake, I slept a solid 10hrs!!! I think it was thanks to my amazingly snuggly sleeping bag that kept me so warm. I have to have some home comforts! 🙂
It was to be a leisurely break so a cooked breakfast was definitely on the menu. Thankfully we put up a tarp next to the tent that we cooked under and didn’t get much rain at all, only at night but we were under part of an acorn tree that was dropping nuts. I like to think there was an old angry squirrel in the tree throwing them at us, but maybe my imagination was getting away from me!
On the site there is a very peaceful lake, which is where we spent all of our days just sat watching and photographing the wildlife. Dragonflies were a challenge and although I got a few photographs it was like they were playing peek-a-boo flying out from the grasses and back in. The butterflies were much more obliging sitting pleasantly still for minutes on end.
We had an amazing few days and the owners, Foo and Tim were lovely and very accommodating. I think we will definitely be taking a trip back again next year.
In August we noticed a black rabbit hopping around the site at work. A notice was put out asking if anyone had lost a bunny, but no one replied.
To start with, it looked as though it had integrated with the wild rabbits but after some reading and some watching it was obvious that he was out on his own. He seemed to disappear for about 3 weeks but then we saw him again in the car park – not the safest place for any bunny! To my surprise as I approached him, he hopped over and looked in my hand for food. We decided he was hungry and started to leave him some food in the undergrowth where he appeared to be living.
After seeing him a few times and happily eating out of my hand, we decided to seek approval for capture and re-homing. The re-homing was easy, I decided to keep him! The capture not so easy! I had built up some trust as he would spot me offering food and bound 4-5 hops to come and see me, but he didn’t seem to like being stroked so instead of breaking the trust I had gained, I carried on offering food.
We had put hay in an area where we knew he sat and had seen him sat munching it. So we replaced the hay with a cat box full of hay and a little carrot hoping that he would go in. We knew he had ventured in as the carrot had gone! The only problem we had was being in the right place at the right time to shut the door!
On a Monday after work, we waited next to the cat box with string at the ready to close the door. He was over the other side of the hedge on the grass so I went over with a bit of carrot to say hello. He excitedly hopped over to get his treat. Walking back over to the box I asked him to follow and amazingly, he did! Poking his head in the box for carrot, he finally went fully in the box and we pulled the string! He stamped his foot once then settled down for his journey home.
‘Lucky’ is now happily living with me, to start with in a pen in the kitchen while his hutch was renovated!! Give a Dad a hutch and they turn it into a mansion! He has now settled in and likes to run around on the kitchen floor and is happy to be stroked but not picked up, so a little more work needs to be done before he has a trip to the vets. We still don’t know if he’s a boy or a girl! But he has a great friendly personality and is very intelligent and tidy, rearranging his hutch all the time! I have plans to find him a bunny friend for company in the future 🙂
Having had a busy few months, I decided I needed a weekend getaway so started trawling the internet for campsites. We decided on a visit to Weymouth and stayed near East Fleet. Although we weren’t on the campsite very much it was a lovely site. Thankfully we got there when it was dry and got the tent up and organised. The one thing I like about tents is, you get to organise a new home each time you go away 🙂
I didn’t really have many plans for what to do, our decisions were made on when the weather map said it was going to rain! I haven’t been to Weymouth since I was a child so visited the normal ‘visitor’ areas. Portland Bill was the first stop which was nice to have a look around and watch the crazy people jumping off of the cliffs! However, in typical British summer weather style, we could see the rain coming in so headed back into Weymouth where we got drenched!! The best place to go when it’s raining and you’re camping? The cinema!!
Thankfully, our final day had a good weather outlook so we headed over to the very picturesque Durdle Door. Some of the coastal paths were still shut due to the landslides earlier in the year but there were still plenty of people out enjoying the summer sun. If you visit be warned the walk back to the car park is a little steep!
Despite the on/off weather, Weymouth is a great place to getaway and it was nice to relive some childhood memories and have a much-needed break!
On April 6th my best friend and her family came to stay. It was only a couple of weeks to her son’s 4th birthday so as part of his present we all went to Longleat Safari Park. It was a gloriously sunny day so we made the most of it and got there when the park gates opened and left when they shut! I vaguely remember going there as a child – the monkeys stole the windscreen washers from the car but that’s all I remember!
We decided to take the bus trip round the safari so our car would stay in one piece (but you can bypass the monkeys now, if you happen to go). The bus was a good decision as you get to learn a lot more about the animals you are looking at, their names, how long they have been there etc. You can get out at the African Village and feed the giraffes, its nice to be able to get up close but they eat the lettuce leaf very quickly so you don’t get to see them for long. Feeding the deer was much more my thing, they were happy to hang around for as long as they knew you had food in the pot! Great day and the adults enjoyed it as much as the birthday boy!
My winter holiday in Cornwall started with my best friend getting married. As a present, I offered to photograph her wedding. Weddings are not normally something I take on but this was an extra special occasion 🙂 The day went so smoothly and everyone had the most amazing day. It was a small Wedding with such a lovely atmosphere, which made my job so much easier. There is always more pressure when taking images for your best friend, but she loved the results 🙂
The following week we spent in North Cornwall in a lovely cottage. The coast is one of my favourite places to be especially in the winter when it is deserted if you find the right beach.
Before this trip away I did some extensive research into smaller lesser known beaches, some I have to say were a little difficult to find even with a map and a sat nav! They were lovely to visit though, so quiet and out of the way. The only problem with them in winter, is the public restrooms are shut!
Although it was a little chilly in the sea breeze it was sunny for most of the week. It appears we chose the right week to go away this year!
Ok, so my visit to the Lake District was not technically the summer, more like November!!! But it was a holiday and the weather was better than what we experienced in August so I like to think of it as a summer holiday!!!
Knowing how long it took to travel to the Lake District in the summer we thought we had it all planned out but it always takes longer to pack the car than you expect… isn’t that always the way?! I’m sure the bags know it’s vacation time and gang up on us! 🙂
It was 11/11/11 which meant it was ‘One Day One Earth’ where people all over the world film their day to add to a collective media piece of the world in one day (you can see our finished video here). We had plans to get to Kirkstone Pass to record a timelapse of the sun setting.
So I’m not the most fittest of people! I’m fine normally but I am only little and when I put a full camera / film bag on my back it adds a lot of weight as it’s about the same size as me! After the first day I realised that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do all of the walks I had marked out with the added weight of the kit!
I planned out a new list of places to go that would be flatter! Rydal Water was a perfect length walk with only a few inclines. It is a lovely lake and has small forested areas and a cave on the route. I ventured a little distance into the cave but I don’t trust myself with slippery rocks, cameras and water! It started to get dark on the way back to the car, but luckily I always have a torch in my bag (comes from being a concert photographer!) as the walk back through the forest was a little creepy! And a tip… if you head to the Lake District always remember to take loads of change for the car parks, it can be a little expensive!
Lougrigg Tarn was a great find, just walked out the door of the accommodation and we were en route. There was a rather steep climb to start with but it flattened out. There were loads of sheep which made it interesting trying to climb over the stiles with the bags and four legged friends that wanted to see what you were up to! Going away from the normal more tourist attraction areas is worth it even if it means a bit of an extra drive along single track roads in the dark!
The recent summer weather got me thinking about summer holidays and the lack of them in recent years. I generally don’t go away in the summer but last year August brought my first holiday for many years… well if you could call it a holiday! It was not what everyone thinks of in terms of conventional. There were no lazy days on beaches with the sun beaming down, just grey skies and windy country roads!
Obsidian Entertainment and I decided it would be nice to head to the Isle of Skye to film and photograph some scenery in the north of our country. Neither of us had been that far north before so we headed out on our road trip with a map and some ideas.
We decided to split our journey up by stopping at Ullswater in the Lake District on the way up. The first night camping was the sign of what was to come in the following week – rain! Although we had checked our route before we left we had not anticipated how long it would take us to travel the roads through the Grampians. It was decided Fort William would be a last minute stop over. (I would suggest doing the same if you are travelling from the South of England).
The drive up to Portree was still a long way from Port William. When looking at a map I really didn’t take in the windiness of the roads! It was lovely scenery but when you are the driver you don’t really get a chance to take a look around you.
Now this holiday is the reason I will never go on a week long camping holiday again! Rain and a tent for a week is not much fun! We were hoping to go walking but when it rained, it really rained, and a four hour walk is very miserable when soaked through! We had to take the option of locating areas near the car to film and take pictures of!
One very good thing about the Isle of Skye is wherever you look there is beautiful scenery…mountains, lochs or the coast. One particularly rainy day we took a drive around the Isle to have a look around and mark down some areas for better weather. We discovered that most car parks were free and there were plenty of areas to stop on the roads. Many of the roads in the more rural areas are tracks but once you have the hang of them they are lovely to drive. I would like to take another trip there sometime but maybe stay in more solid accommodation!