olloclip

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

I use an iPhone (5) and I love it.

I use it every day for emails, calls, texts, vibe, whatsapp, FB, instagram, twitter, maps, waze, evernote, pinterest, contacts, calendar….. you name it.

I didn’t think that the camera on the phone could be improved as it such good quality already. the iPhone 6 has probably managed to improve the camera further but until I have an iPhone 6, I will have to wait to see.

But I read somewhere ages and ages ago that there was a little attachable lens was available from a company called Olloclip to use with the phone as an attachment, providing more flexibility and giving you a tool that would truly explore the potential of the smashing lens in this little phone.

As an early christmas present to myself, I ordered the 4-in-1 combo. This provides you with a fish eye, wide angle and 2 strengths of macro lens.

I have a canon 6D that I use all the time and have a variety of different lenses for it. It provides such good quality shots that I use it for serious photography and pictures of my work but I have never really considered the iPhone to be a contender for serious shots.  As good as it is, how could it possibly be used as a serious working camera?

The review were good but my true expectations for what the addition of the olloclip could do to the camera on the iPhone were limited, but the results have been amazing.

It is tiny attachment and a bit fiddly and would be very easy to lose but if you have the time and the patience along with helpful additions to your camera bag such as a gorilla pod and a clip for your phone, you can set it up to get great photos.

It is great fun and the results are very effective.

Olloclip has an instagram account where people share their images using the olloclip and some are truly incredible.

I need some time to get more interesting shots and I have not taken advantage of the wide angle fitting yet but I’m delighted with the macro results

See for yourself……… all taken with the phone hand held without the support or steadiness of a tripod, gorilla pod or surface

Fish Eye

hand held at eye level

at eye level

seated

seated

10x Macro

flower head - hand held

flower head

daisy - hand held

daisy

rotting knot in fallen tree - hand held

rotting knot in fallen tree

15x Macro

drooping flower head

drooping flower head

detail from flower

detail from flower

offset shot of flower - my favourite

offset shot of flower – my favourite

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

 

 

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coffee adventures

it's frothy man

it’s frothy man

After such excitement over our gorgeous new coffee machine, we have had some disappointments.

Our lovely machine blew something inside and was no longer safe to use with water and steam spewing out everywhere.

John Lewis were brilliant about it and because they had no De Longhi stock to replace it and it was dangerous, they refunded us in full and the pretty machine was condemned to the bin, unfortunately.

pixie!

pixie!

We were back to our traditional italian stove top coffee maker for a while and still loving our coffee.

But we missed the frothy milk and the espressos that JC likes. Coffee and hot milk done the old fashioned way just wasn’t hacking it.

traditional stove top coffee maker

traditional stove top coffee maker

After all it is still a bit of a faff using the stove top and a milk pan and even a wonderful morning coffee we can get from our wonderfully seasoned old campaigner hasn’t hacked it really.

We are busy and things need to be as easy as possible really

So!!!!

Having taken full advantage of our lovely friends thorough research, we are now the proud owners of a Nespresso Pixie with aerochino!

And it is wonderful

And it is easy

And there is no mess

And it is cheaper than buying beans and ground.

 

And we have found a fantastic clever devise for storing our pods that can be fixed to the underside of the kitchen wall cupboard. Right on hand but not seen. Marvellous.

pod holder

pod holder

Or mounted on the wall like a piece of art.

wall mounted pod holder

wall mounted pod holder

Finding the flavours that are right for us but it is fun trying and we have had some very helpful tips.

shiney and brilliant

shiney and brilliant

I feel coffee love again!!!


Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

British Legion

British Legion

We went to the poppy installation at the tower of London today.

waves of red

waves of red

We had wanted to go many weekends before and we bought two of the installation poppies as soon as they were available on line through the British Legion. The thing about today, however, that I liked is that the installation is nearly as finished as it will be when it ends on November 11th at 11am.

a sea

a sea

They were still planting poppies today as we walked along and they are as important as the very first of what is now a huge display.

poppies in a wave over the top

poppies in a wave over the top

It is impressive to see such a big ‘sculpture’ but it is also deeply tragic that this sea of red flowers represents so very many lost lives!

a singing starling

a singing starling

Both JC and I struggled with the selfies and family photo shots that were being taken with the poppies in the background. So many of the people getting their pictures taken in front of it really didn’t seem to grasp the significance of each and every one of the 888,246 poppies and that they represents a life lost; wasted to the wages of war.

A loss that the family of the loved one will never have recovered from!

arching over the bridge

arching over the bridge

We were there for hours walking around the inside of the tower where you see parts of the installation not visible from the public footpaths surrounding the tower and there is a section where the moat space tails off and there are some poppies that are singular and in an open line. That row of solitary poppies really impacted on me, it was very poignant and makes you realise that a lot of the 888,246 not only died but also died alone and in very terrible conditions.

ripples of poppies

ripples of poppies

The entire thing made me feel very emotional and I struggled to keep a check on the tears.

That check became even harder when we got to the WW1 exhibition that shows black and white photos of soldiers training within the grounds of the tower in 1914; then the same photo has a modern day equivalent 2014 person standing where one of the other men had been.

It was deeply moving.

poppies laid on the ground

poppies laid on the ground

I’m pleased that they are to keep the installation a bit longer and I would really like it if they took the poppies away one by one as if reversing the installation so that they flow back to the first poppy and the first loss of life in this great war of wars.

the wind made them sway

the wind made them sway

I would heartily recommend it.

Our future generations need to understand the extent of the devastation.

each one is individually hand formed

each one is individually hand formed

It is a humbling experience that will not leave me.

and each has a different height stalk

and each has a different height stalk

But I am so pleased to have had the chance to see this amazing reminder of so many lost lives.

beautiful

beautiful

Brothers, cousins, sisters, dads, sons, mums, dads, the list goes on.

it's quite overwhelming

it’s quite overwhelming

All serving people who will have been terrified and quite bewildered by the events leading up to their death.

each and every one

each and every one

They thought they’d all be home by Christmas

contrast

contrast

Little did they know.

cascade

cascade (single poppy in a space in the foreground)

And we really must NEVER forget!

endless

endless

tumbling

tumbling

in muddy water (ironically like the trenches)

in muddy water (ironically like the trenches)

 


Water Baby

retrieve

retrieve

It’s safe to say that Max does not like the water.

He’s spent an extraordinary amount of time getting wet with weekly baths to sort out his skin problem so I can understand the aversion to it.

not letting the stick go

not letting the stick go

But even before the allergy started, he wasn’t the first into the sea or any body of water that you’d throw a stick into.

He might venture into the shallows to retrieve a treat but we have lost a lot of balls and toys on the beaches of norfolk because he just won’t go in to get them if a swim or deep water of any kind is required.

Hamlet and Max waiting for the throw

Hamlet and Max waiting for the throw

Add a bit of competition though and that is a completely different matter as we found out recently.

fish eye olloclip lens on iPhone 5

fish eye olloclip lens on iPhone 5

We have my sis’s JRT, Hamlet with us for a while again and we took Max for a walk with him to a pond nearby and as soon as there was a chance that Hamlet might beat him to the retrieve, he was right in there.

I've got it!!

I’ve got it!!

 

Swimming no less!!! (well, it actually looked a lot like drowning a lot of the time to be fair).

It was such a lovely evening that we stayed for ages, wearing out the boys and enjoying the sun set.

sun set

sun set

 


Willow Tree Fen

permanent waterways that edge the farm and the willow woodland 2012

We went to an agricultural show in June 2012 which was very wet and, although incredibly quaint and old fashioned with vintage tractors, rare breeds and country craft demonstrations, the rain drove us indoors eventually.

We took the exhibition tent and got talking to some interesting people at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

the ground is still partly drained by the grid of dykes across the fens 2012

Where we are based in South Holland, there are very few public footpaths because of the extent of the privately owned agricultural land.  We know there are some places that you can go to but they all involve a drive and sometimes into the next county.

Imagine our delight to discover some incredible and readily accessible nature reserves right near us.

flora and fauna 2012

Giddy with the joy of it, we joined the LWT at an annual fee of ONLY £33 and walked away with a comprehensive map of the local reserves, a book about all the reserves in the Wildlife Trust’s arsenal across the UK and a car sticker (should have handed that back as we won’t ever use that).

The following day, the weather perked up considerably and off we trotted to one of the newest reserves that happens to also be the closest. Willow Tree Fen

jews ears or woodland ears on fallen rotting willow 2012

Unfortunately most of the reserve restrict dog access but we did happen upon dog walkers on this one and wished we had brought the furry one.

one of the many varied damsel flies that we spotted 2012

Willow Tree Fen is exactly what it says it is.  It is a fenland farm where Willow trees grow in abundance and it is one of the last farms that was run as a traditional fen farm where the seasonal water level changes are allowed to occur in the low section of land.  This in itself, gives rise to all the splendid wildlife and fauna that goes with it:- Willow Trees are in their element, sometimes standing in water for months at a time, the wetland meadows or meres are teaming with flowers, the permanent water ways that edge the farm are home to lots of interesting insect life such damsel flies that are so numerous in types that we got lost counting them, there are water birds, sand martins, swifts, swallows and many more.

kings cups with the new flower heads growing towards the water surface 2012

It was peaceful and a total delight to have found.

We spent a wonderful afternoon there once we found it (as the directions are a little sketchy) and it is tucked out of the way so is unlikely to get very busy (we only saw half a dozen or so visitors in a whole afternoon).  The original 2 hides have posters of the birds that have been seen and visitors are asked to record the breed and numbers that they see when visiting for the reserves records.

resting cattle in the fen meadow with the mere in the background 2012

Nearly all the work undertaken to build hides and walkways is done by volunteers and there was evidence of some of that work in progress as we meandered around the reserve.

acres of meadow and mere stretch out across the farm 2012

The farm itself was sold to the Wildlife Trust in 2009 after I imagine it became unviable as a business but when you look around the acreage, it is easy to see why if was kept in it’s traditional state but how that would mean low yields and limited options for making a living out of the farm.

It is a great thing that it is being maintained and that is thanks to the foresight of organisations such as the Wildlife Trust.

the wet meadows with the willow wood in the background 2012

Since first exploring the reserve, we have been back a number of times and see changes every time we do.

tree clearing 2014

tree clearing 2014

There is a new hide that sits between the 2 original ones and right on the edge of water that is punctuated with trees that were clearly planted in neat little rows at some point in the farm’s history.

logs piles from tree clearing

logs piles from tree clearing

These are currently being cleared as they have mostly died in the deep fen water but before this is completed and while we were enjoying the peace and quiet of the new hide, the trees provided a perch for a kingfisher that we were delighted to see.

a beautiful kingfisher

a beautiful kingfisher

In a flash of blue it appeared from behind the hide and stayed with us for a few minutes before flying around the front of the hide and disappearing behind the other side with as much flourish as it arrived.

reed bunting

reed bunting

We listed the numerous birds that we have seen this week (some more interesting than others but wonderfully varied all the same) and managed to photograph some of them:-

goldfinches

goldfinches

Kingfisher

Goldfinch

Mute Swan

kingfisher

kingfisher

Wood Pigeon

Great Tit

Blue Tit

off as quickly as it arrived

off as quickly as it arrived

Marsh Harrier

Crows (numerous)

Jackdaw

Swallows (still here)

little egret

little egret

Little Egret

Kestrel (x2)

Snipe (not confirmed as not 100% sure)

Reed Warbler

lapwing display

lapwing display

Nuthatch (also not 100% sure)

Reed Bunting (numerous)

Jays (x2)

lapwings flocking over the marshes

lapwings flocking over the marshes

Mallard

Coots

Moorhen

Grey Heron

coots and moorhens in amongst the drowned trees

coots and moorhens in amongst the drowned trees

Buzzard

Sparrow Hawk

Lapwings

House Sparrow

woodland walk

woodland walk

There is a new woodland walk, a new path along the drain which takes you lower and nearer the meres, there is an education centre, new benches dotted around and at some lovely viewing spots and a wonderful bug hotel at the visitor’s centre that would be the envy of many and has certainly made my little palace look wholly inadequate.

5 star bug hotel

5 star bug hotel

There are other reserves that we need to explore too but we will continue to come back to watch this one through it’s seasonal changes and improvements.

It is a lovely place!


horseboarding UK

leaning into that corner

greens – leaning into that corner

It’s about 18 months since I first ‘discovered’ horseboarding. I now follow it on FB and enjoy the odd post from the hard working teams.

 

purples - clearing the gate

purples – clearing the gate

I would like to eventually do more to support the sport as I just love it but for now, I remain an enthusiastic spectator.

dare devils - 9 and 13 years old

dare devils – 9 and 13 years old

It is fun, funky and very, very exciting.

norfolk and good

norfolk and good

I’m not lucky enough to feed my interest in it often but it does’t diminish my enthusiasm.

IMG_8038

Today, I got my fix at Sandringham Game Fair and it just gets better and better.

fast and exciting

fast and exciting

To the uninitiated, it probably just looks like a lot of very fast fun but there is some serious skill involved. There are polo players, championship snow boarders, olympia qualifiers and some very good jockeys.

I know that they perform as often as they can and I also know that they practice hard. There are long days on the road to get to where they need to go and I’m sure they have a wonderful associated social life but there will also be some massive sacrifices.

raising some dust

my favourite ‘dead pigeons’  raising some dust

And they rescue horses!! What’s not to love?

balance going

balance going

My favourites are still Dead Pigeon but there are some great new teams.

uh oh!

uh oh! Poor Tom took a tumble just before the end

I just love the sport and wish I was still a rider….. I might just think about taking it up!!


Hot Dog

the chase

the chase

It feels like an age since we were on the beach with Max and his little blue ball and this warm weather really makes you want to be somewhere with a cool breeze and easy access to the water.

cool damp sand under foot

cool damp sand under foot

This heat is very hard on dogs and owners are frighteningly careless with their 4 legged friend’s wellbeing at this time of year.

retrieved

retrieved

There are too many tales of windscreens having to be smashed to relieve a distressed and possibly dying dog in a hot car.  Too many feet injuries from hot tarmac and surfaces that we protect ourselves against with shoes.

and very pleased with himself

and very pleased with himself

We’re pretty diligent and since Max now has fur (long story), he feels the heat much more than before. He didn’t have a high rate of tolerance for it at the best of times and has been to drag along on his late afternoon/early evening second walk when it is warm and humid.

He is a terrier however and he isn’t beyond baking himself on the decking before retreating to the shade panting like a steam train but he’s able to control that.

It is easy for a little dog to forget about cooling off when he is tanking around enjoying ourself when it is hot. And I think it is easy for owners to forget too.

cool as....

cool as….

The beach offers the chance to cool off in the water and as long as there is fresh water to drink (the effects of drinking sea water are pretty unpleasant, rapid and can be quite dramatic), it’s the best place to be in the sunshine.

hot dog

hot dog

Even so, JC found a novel way to cool Max right down. He was buried up to his neck in cool damp sand while we were taking a well earned rest and a bit of a snooze over the papers.

He loved it and stayed there for ages. He even managed 40 winks at one point.

nodding off

nodding off