Spring family photo session at Dunham Massey National Trust Property in Cheshire

I spent a lovely afternoon last week at the National Trust property, Dunham Massey National Trust Property in Cheshire with Sarah, Chris and Evelyn for a spring family photo session.

Sarah and Chris were keen for pictures of Evelyn at this stage of her life as well as for some pictures of them all together interacting and doing what they do. A perfect brief – I love capturing natural expressions and I especially love the spontaneity of children.

We had a wander around the gardens together and saw some lovely bluebells, tulips and a very tame squirrel… and after Evelyn trusted me to carry her bag, we all got along very well indeed! The weather was dry and bright and the sun wasn’t too harsh – ideal conditions for the session.

They have so much love for each other which I hope comes through in the pictures.   They make me smile a lot anyways.  Here are a few of my favourites.

The hottest May Day on record!

It is always a happy coincidence when some amazing weather and a planned camping trip coincide as was the case this past weekend…

We started our adventure on Friday enjoying a leisurely drive up to Cumbria.  We stopped at Broughton in Furness for a visit to the butchers, green grocer and the bakery too.  Oreo brownie’s – oh my!  Our first two nights were at the National Trust Campsite in Wasdale.  The adjacent car park is the main starting point for the quickest route up Scafell Pike and it was interesting to see it busy all times of the day… This is the season for people doing the 3 peaks challenge where they climb Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon in a 24 hour window so when I say all times of the day, I do mean that.

On Saturday morning we walked from the campsite up Lingmell and then along a very famous walking route called the corridor route to Sty Head Tarn.  There was a lot of low cloud when we started but it cleared as the day progressed leaving behind some fabulous views.  From the tarn we heading up towards Kirkfell.  Going up was okay but the very steep, stony descent from Kirk Fell pretty much finished us all off.  Mine and Paul’s legs felt like jelly and Stella was not impressed either!  We stopped at Wasdale Head Inn for a well deserved cold drink in the beer garden by the river and then visited our wedding church before heading back to the campsite- it’s been a few years since we’ve been in so it was lovely to be back.

On Sunday we had a rather tortuous journey out of the valley as the good weather had prompted everyone (it seemed) to head into Wasdale for the day.  The single lane road with passing places just wasn’t really coping with the volume of traffic.  Once we’d escaped the grid lock, we made a beeline for Muncaster Castle for their Cumberland Sausage, Food & Drink Festival.  Again the fantastic weather brought the crowds but it’s a big place so it was easy to find quiet places.  It was nice to wander first around the bluebell woods – they looked amazing – and then around the food festival.

We camped up for the next couple of nights at Ravenglass this time – one of my all time favourite campsites.  We got settled and enjoyed the warmth of the evening sun.  We even put the sun canopy out to provide some shade it was that warm – we usually use it to give us a dry space to get in and out of the van when it’s raining!

On Monday we ended up abandoning our walk plans – Stella was still suffering with grazed, tender paws from Saturday’s walk and was tippy-toeing around the site avoiding the stones as much as possible.  Although we were both disappointed, it wasn’t fair on the little doggie who was obviously not very comfortable on her feet.  We enjoyed the sun, had a little wander into Ravenglass and a lovely lunch at the Pennington Hotel instead.

We hit the road home Tuesday morning – with a stop for some Cumberland sausage in Waberthwaite of course! – both having really enjoyed the weekend.

Here are a few of my favourite shots.

Molly and James’ Spring Wedding at St. Thomas More Church, Coventry and Warwick House, Southam

Molly & James

April 7 2018

Venue – St. Thomas More Church, Coventry & Warwick House, Southam.

What a day this was to be a part of…

When I heard that Molly’s Dad would be officiating the wedding service in his role as a church deacon and that Molly’s Mum had made her wedding dress by hand, it was a given it was going to a pretty special day with lots of individual touches.  Then there were the wedding favours… beer made by James’ Dad adorned by felt flowers made by anyone that dared enter Molly’s parents house in the run up to the wedding  and the cake made by Molly’s aunt.  And if that wasn’t enough, the 80 year old veil that Molly wore had been her Grandma’s when she got married but had also been worn by her Mum when she got married.  Enough already – are you trying to make me cry…?

On the day, everything went so well from very timely getting ready of the ladies to the lovely service and precise organisational skills of the venue.  And unbelievably the rain that was forecast never materialised.  Thank-you Mr. Weatherman!

As I begin the process of editing the pictures that my most excellent second shooter Simon and I took throughout the day, I’ll leave you with a little taster preview.  Hope you like it!

Hardened campers…?

We had our inaugural camping trip of the year this past weekend when we went to Gibraltar Farm in Silverdale, Lancashire. The Telegraph rated this website as one of the top 20 best coastal campsites so I thought it was worth a shot.

We were a little afraid when we saw the weather forecast for sub-zero temperatures and snow but didn’t think about changing our plans… We’ve camped when it’s been cold before and the van is warm and cosy. We travelled up the M6 on Friday morning via a shopping stop at Carnforth and a walk at Warton Crag.  Warton Crag is a limestone hill which is part of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  It was the site of an Iron Age hill fort and there were lots of paths around to keep us entertained for a  few hours.

We were really pleased when we arrived at our campsite and found a pitch with an amazing view looking across the sheep fields out to the sea. We settled in and got the heater and electric blanket going.  We did note that the other occupied camping units on the site seemed to provide quite a few more home comforts compared to Frank so we patted ourselves on the back for being hardened campers.

We had a lovely walk the next day along the Silverdale coast.  On the way back we ended up walking through Eaves Wood and found the Pepperpot. The Pepperpot was built in 1887 to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria and the views were quite something from its perch on the ridge. The weather was cold and windy but despite a few snow showers, it was quite dry and the cold ground meant it wasn’t very muddy.  However, the temperature was even lower on night two… Stella’s water bowl froze over as did condensation in the front of the van.  Our little heater was just completely overwhelmed by the sub-zero temperatures.  We got in our sleeping bags at 6pm just to stay warm  and it was at that point that I made the executive decision to book a hotel for the next and last night of our weekend!  So much for hardened campers, right…?!

So on Sunday we got ourselves packed up and went for another walk heading north this time to Arnside. Arnside is a lovely little village with some nice shops and seemed to be very popular with groups of walkers.  Despite the temperatures, I still had an ice cream along the prom although I think the few people we passed might have thought I was a little crazy.

Once we got back to the van we headed south to Morecambe and the Midland Hotel. What a treat this was for us – it would have been a treat anyways because it was such a lovely hotel but because we’d been so cold the previous two nights it was like a little piece of heaven.  With the exception of the fancy restaurant, the whole hotel is dog friendly.  It has a great art deco style and an amazing central staircase.  Our room had a huge bathroom and comfortable furniture and was lovely and warm!  I can’t go on enough about how nice this hotel was.  Our stay there also gave me a chance to do a little reconnaissance for a wedding I’m photographing there in July.  It’s going to be great and there are some great places for photos!  We had our evening meal in the bar and breakfast the following morning was great too.  After a little walk along the prom we headed back to the Birkenbub.

And most importantly – the reason for this adventure was to celebrate our anniversary. We always try and go away for our wedding anniversary and most of these trips away have been camping – with a few cottages thrown in for good measure/warmth.  (Next year might be a cottage!) Happy Anniversary to Paul – 8 years married and he still loves me (so I tell him) and still makes me laugh. J

Our own private island

We celebrated Paul’s birthday this year with a lovely little trip to the Cotswolds. We set off on Friday morning heading for Cirencester and arrived at lunch time – perfect timing to sample the delights of the food market that was occupying the town square. After food, we had a wander around the streets and through the park. Cirencester is charming and well worth a visit – an afternoon well spent.

From Cirencester we headed south just a few miles to South Cerney and our cottage, Filly island. We were greeted by the cottage owner, Mouse, who was filled with lots of great advice about what to do and where to eat while we stayed. There was also a lovely hamper full of goodies for us to indulge in during our stay including a fresh loaf of gorgeous buttery bread. Filly Island used to be the barn where the cart was stored but it is now a stylish cottage for 2 (actually 2+1 – in the form of our furry baby Stella of course)! It suited us well for the 3 nights we spent there (although note to self for next time – 3 nights was too short!)… It was filled with quirky, unique touches such as the kitchen cupboards which were converted from the old barn door, the tennis racket converted to a mirror/key rack and the bath tub found in a bush and lovingly restored. I particularly liked the markings on the bedroom door recording the name and heights of the doggy visitors – Stella’s name was added to the collection. It was great to have this space to cosy up into each evening – the fire made it super snug.

On Saturday we drove to nearby Kemble and took the train from there to Stroud. The farmer’s market in Stroud was really good – lots of choice spread around the town centre. It was a shame the weather was not playing but some of the market was undercover so those bits got more of our attention! After stocking up at the market, we walked back in the direction of the car – 14 miles mostly along canal footpaths and disused canal footpaths. It was very muddy underfoot in places and rained on and off throughout the day. So the tartiflette pie that we’d bought at the farmer’s market warmed us up and was a really nice treat dinner. This was washed down by birthday cake… made by the fair hands of Emma’s Cupcakery. I really love this lady’s creative cakes.

On Sunday the weather was much nicer so we took another wander… this time from the cottage to the nearby Cotswold Water Park . There are more than 150 lakes created by the mining of limestone. The lakes filled in naturally after work on the mines stopped in the early 1970s. It was still pretty muddy under foot (and under paw for that matter) but the camera saw a little more action on day two.

On Monday morning we said good-bye to South Cerney and Filly Island and set off for Bibury – a Cotswold village recommended to us by Mouse – to see Arlington Row. This is a row of cottages originally built in 1380 by the monks to store wool. The building was converted into cottages for weavers in the seventeenth century. I guess it’s one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes and is depicted on the inside cover of all United Kingdom passports. Cool, hey?

From Bibury we started our journey north. We had a lovely stop in Ludlow for a wander around the town and market before finishing off the last leg of the journey home. So it was another successful birthday pilgrimage to explore a part of the world we’ve not visited and, most importantly, spend some quality time together – just the three of us.