The Heat Wave of 2018

I’ve not known a summer like this since I’ve lived here… so that’s almost 20 years in case anyone is counting!  The weather is warm (sometimes hot) and very dry.  The hose pipe bans have started and there are fires on the moorland – and on Bidston Hill too.  It’s been great weather for camping and walking though so I thought I’d give a little update of a couple of the things we got up to for the past few weeks.

We went for a  walk with Denis a couple of weeks back starting in Wilmslow.  There were lots of shady paths and it wasn’t one of the hottest days we’ve had which made it great for Stella.  Although 15 miles turned into 18, I still enjoyed it (but don’t tell Denis I did…it’s fun to tease him about this mileage increase!) One of the first stops along the route was Quarry Bank Mill and the Styal Estate.  Then we walked alongside the boundary of Manchester Airport and watched a few planes taking off.  We had a stop at the Merlin pub for lunch – that was a nice place and given that it was Father’s Day seemed to be a popular place for lunch.   There were also two ice cream stops and the last leg of the route was alongside a river which Stella was most pleased about.

We also had a camping trip to Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales with Nicola and Cathy and their families.  Nicola has a caravan that they keep there and we joined them to experience the delights of this little corner of Britain.  I do love the lovely coast line and turquoise colour of the water – it always feels to me like being abroad.  Paul and I took Friday off and travelled down in the morning stopping at Aberdaron.   This is a lovely little village with a nice beach, a great bakery and some lovely little shops including an ice cream shop!  After ice cream for me and a pie at the bakery for Paul, we headed to the beach for a little walk and play.  Stella loved running in and out of the surf playing ball.

We headed to the campsite where we found ourselves on a farm in a camping field to ourselves.  Stella was in heaven.  Even more so when the rest of the party joined us – more friends to play ball with.  On Saturday we went for a coastal walk – estimated distance 8 miles, actual distance 15).  There was ice cream, a pub stop and 3 beaches along the way.  We all felt we’d earned the sunny BBQ that night – lovely to sit chatting and still being warm outside.

We got up early the next day to come away so we were home in time for England’s second World Cup football game.  I came away with a couple of extra horse fly bites and sun burns on the back of both legs where I’d missed with the sunscreen but we both really enjoyed the weekend, the company of the others, the food, the walk and the weather.     The van does get a little toasty when the sun hits full power but it’s a small price to pay.  Our next van adventure is not too far away in a couple of weeks… it would be great if it was warm and dry but fingers crossed for temperatures in the low 20s rather than the high 20s!

 

Susan and Callum’s Summer Wedding at West Tower Manor House, Lancashire

June 29 2018

Venue – West Tower Manor House, Lancashire

Flowers – The Flower Studio, Manchester

Ice Cream – Ice Cream Dub

The weather in June in the UK can be anything really – cold, wet, sunny, warm – take your pick.  I guess I probably thought that the warm and sunny option was unlikely when I first met with Susan and Callum to discuss their plans but as the heat wave continues in the UK, it turned out to be a very warm and a very sunny day.  On this occasion my camera bag packing list included sun screen… It’s not often that makes the cut!  I’ve still not figured out if booking the ice cream van (Ice Cream Dub) was as a result of the bride and groom’s sixth sense for what the weather was going to be like or if they also understand (as I do) that there is in fact no bad time for ice cream and it would still be appropriate if it was cold and rainy.

West Tower is a lovely place for a wedding – no wonder it has won so many awards.  For six years in a row it has been voted the County Brides North West Wedding Awards Best Wedding Venue.  I love that Susan and Callum and their family and friends had the place to themselves and were able to wander around the grounds (in between the ceremony, dinner and dancing) finding ice cream, shade and thirst quenching beverages at the bars. Apparently air conditioning was one of Callum’s *mustcriteria when they were searching for a wedding venue and I have to admit, that was a welcome relief throughout the day from the sun and warmth.  Well done Callum.

Susan is probably one of the most organised people I know so the day ran like clockwork.  I enjoyed my time with the girls while they got ready in the beautiful bridal suite watching the guests arrive on the lawn downstairs.  The ceremony was simple and pretty with bright yellow flowers from The Flower Studio injecting a real summertime vibe.  Another highlight for me was Callum and his speech – that little waver in his voice when he turned his attention to Susan gave me goose bumps… even in the heat.  The sunset was also something pretty special.

Here are a few of the pictures that we took– Simon was very capably shooting with me throughout the day again.  I am always grateful for his perspective and  company.

Susan & Callum-4142Susan & Callum-4200Susan & Callum-4077Susan & Callum-4227Susan & Callum-4139Susan & Callum-Susan & Callum-4308Susan & Callum-4337Susan & Callum-4205Susan & Callum-4211Susan & Callum-4384Susan & Callum-4255Susan & Callum-4497Susan & Callum-4522Susan & Callum-29019Susan & Callum-4620Susan & Callum-4738Susan & Callum-4752Susan & Callum-2Susan & Callum-4526Susan & Callum-29313Susan & Callum-4644Susan & Callum-9642Susan & Callum-9682Susan & Callum-9683Susan & Callum-9706

A day in the life of Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre

I took a trip down to Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre last weekend with the idea of documenting a day in the life of the centre. It can be a very busy place – especially in the winter when they had more than 70 hedgehogs at the peak – but even with a mere 20 in (as was the case during my visit) there is still loads to do!

Liz was in charge of the centre on the day of my visit. She was supported by three dedicated volunteers with other team members popping in with donations and deliveries throughout the day.  Ghost the cat also kept popping in and out – for attention mainly it would seem – which he got by the bucket load.

Each of the occupied cages needs cleaning and the bedding refreshed every day. Sometimes medication needs to be given to help the patients ward off infections or to restore their water levels. One of the hedgehogs needed a foot spa because of its infected foot.  Another had some ticks which required removal.  One needed some cream on his nose where a strimmer had nipped the tip of it.  A faecal sample needed to be taken and analysed from another.

There are a couple of incubators for the really sick hedgehogs. Unfortunately one of those was Simeon, who didn’t survive the duration of my visit – he was very poorly indeed – but the volunteers did their best to keep him warm, safe and comfortable in the final hours of his life.  Rest in peace, Simeon.

One hedgehog was admitted when I was there – another victim of a strimmer with a rather large head wound and some missing prickles. There were admission forms to fill in, weights to be established and an assessment to be carried out.  Thankfully Joseph seems to be recovering, fingers crossed for this little one.

After my visit, I decided that I needed to see a hedgehog being released back into the environment… This is such an important part of the work of the centre.  I met Martin at the Butterfly Park in New Ferry where a group of volunteers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their newest residents.  New Ferry Butterfly Park is a Cheshire Wildlife Trust urban nature reserve developed on a former railway coal yard, goods yard and water softening plant. Once Martin had established the best place for the feeding station and shelter, Potter and Cat Woman were moved from their travel crates into their new home.  Their enthusiasm for their new found freedom wasn’t exactly mind-blowing – although we did see the nose of Cat Woman tentatively peeking out of the house just before it got too dark to see any more.  These two have definitely landed on their feet with their release location – what a great place for them.

This experience has given me a greater appreciation for the work of the centre and my already great fondness for these prickly creatures has only increased. Although we all agreed nature can be cruel when we said goodbye to Simeon, the success stories of those hedgehogs like Potter and Cat Woman really demonstrate the benefit that the Hedgehog Centre brings.

Commercial food photography for The Canadian Cottage

Canadians are recognised internationally as a friendly bunch so as I’ve got to know a local Wirral-based business called the Canadian Cottage, working together made a lot of sense. The Canadian Cottage aims to bring products popular in Canada to British tummies – and in my case Canadians tummies living in Britain!

Laura, who is the brains behind the business, asked me to shoot some pictures of her lovely goodies – without eating them first. Well, she didn’t actually say I couldn’t eat them but I cleverly realised that if I ate everything there would be nothing to shoot so I adopted the “no eating policy” as a basic code to abide by…

We started out with a few profile shots of Laura and then moved onto the goodies – starting with the maple cookies. I’ve ordered from the Canadian Cottage a couple of times and Laura asked me what my favourite is… Without even thinking I said the maple cookies.  These double layer custard cream-esk cookies with their maple buttercream centres take some beating in my mind.

Then there were the Nanaimo bars. When I make them they taste quite nice but are all a bit of a mess with ragged edges and crumbly bits – Laura’s were perfect to look at so after envying them (and then photographing them) we moved onto the peanut butter truffles.  And then the butter tarts, maple pecan tarts, chocolate chip cookies, ginger cookies, peanut butter cookies and the banana bread.  Is your mouth watering yet?  In the Canadian Cottage shop there are a couple of selection party packs you can buy so I took some photographs showing what these looked like as well.

    

We worked outside in the garden under the shade of an umbrella so the lighting was lovely and soft and the weather was fantastic. So there I am outside in the sun, enjoying being warm, photographing some of my favourite things to photograph while being able to discuss Canadian things to someone that understands.  We both agreed that this work stuff took some beating.

And to top it off, when we were done I left the shoot with a little care pack of cookies. Oh my goodness – the Peanut Butter cookies.  Are these my new favourites…?  I just ordered some.  And some of the ginger ones too.  I mean it would be wrong not to give this lovely company my business, right…?! 😉

You can find out more on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/TheCanadianCottage/

And most importantly if you want to buy something, go here:

https://the-canadian-cottage.myshopify.com/

Photographing rescue animals with Wirral Animal Sanctuary

I love my little days shooting for Wirral Animal Sanctuary and last Saturday it was a pleasure as always… I love being able to see first-hand the success stories that result from the work that the charity does.  I had four visitors – full of their own individuality and personality.

Here are my favourite pictures of each of my guests. I dare you not to say “awwww” at least once.

The first to come was Benji – still just a puppy. Benji is a Bichon Frise/Maltese cross that had to be rescued rather rapidly.  Thankfully his new family made some quick preparations and were ready to receive him at incredibly short notice.  He has totally landed on his feet and is such a curious guy.

Phoebe, the ferret, was hand reared by the charity and spends a lot of her time accompanying the volunteers to the events.  She is a beautiful caramel colour and loves playing and people.

Mishka – oh Mishka.  I’ve kind of lost track of how many times I’ve photographed Mishka but I always look forward to my kisses. But apparently my face needed a good clean this time.  Mishka is Corrie (the Wirral Animal Sanctuary Rescue Co-ordinator’s) dog and likes hanging out at the events and the shops and is a very good ambassador for the charity.

And finally along came Hattie.  Hattie is a lovely boxer dog who eventually took a liking to a striped squeaky monkey but what she wanted was simple really – just to be close to and in the attention of her new master. How lovely.