Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Monday, June 30, 2014

A family day out to Kirkudbright, Southwest Coast of Scotland

I've always loved Kirkudbright dear reader, I fell in love with it on family holidays to Dumfries and Galloway on the southwest coast of Scotland when I was growing up and then later it was the place Hubby and I would escape to knowing that just a couple of hours drive would take us to a place where the stress would evaporate and the trees would be green.

Yesterday, we took a family day out to the Southwest coast, a time to enjoy family time, rest and relax and a trip to our favourite place, somewhere we hadn't visited for several years.






A family portrait at last, I love Petunias smile, she's just got a perpetually happy face!




Who's a lovely husky?



I have no idea what they're doing, pretending to carry the meat home with the rest of the hunters I think!


The main street in Kirkudbright, yesterday when we arrived we found that they were having the Kirkudbright children's festival, there was a sign which stated "probably the best day out you'll ever have" well it was "National Mud Day" who knew they even had one of those.  I did have my nails done by a mature lady to help pay for a new wheelchair for someone and for the bargain price of £2, yes £2!




We paid a visit to Maclellans Castle owned by Historic Scotland which means we got in half price with our English Heritage membership, it's a fabulous little place, once owned by one of the Lords of Kirkudbright, I particularly liked the "Lairds Lug" you'll find these in castles all over the border counties where it was common for the border reivers to fight, the laird could make sure his visitors really weren't about to attack him or plotting to overthrow him for whoever would pay the most money, it'll have no doubt been those marauding border reivers the Charltons, though I think they were more likely to have been found doing much the same in the Northumbrian borders.


This was my family portrait, funny how it just never seems to work once I have to be in the photo!


Looby took this one of Abigail and I, that's about the best it's going to get, one day we'll get some updates with all of us in them, the problem though is that I'm completely photo phobic!



I love this image of Looby and Petunia, as you know by now I love the chance to do something different and it's easy when you have a dog who's name could easily be "bedtime" because that's all she ever does, I've never known a dog quite like Petunia, she just sleeps all the time, well apart from during the night when you actually want her too!

So that was it, our amazing family day out.... well that was sort of it, we had just left Kirkudbright and we could hear a weird noise coming from the engine and then we smelled burning and the engine died, I've never sprinted from a car quite so quickly thinking that it was going to explode in a Miami Vice type car explosion, it didn't explode and we were stranded in a lay by near the village of Tongland, luckily it was in front of 2 little cottages where 2 little old ladies lived with their dog Anoushka and their grumpy donkey called Toby who decided to nip me on the arm, I have a huge bruise.  A call to the AA was quickly placed and guess how long it took them to reach us?  4 hours, 4 hours in a lay by, thank goodness for those lovely ladies who made us coffee, fed us biscuits and let us use the loo.  When the AA did turn up we were told we had a broken starter motor, did they fix it?  No but they bumped it and told us we could drive home but not stop unless it was a petrol station on a hill, guess what we had to do, yes we had to find a petrol station on a hill, as I said to hubby, if it had of been me I would have refused to just chance it on the way home, it's hardly the full service when you've got kids and a dog to think about and you're hours away from home!  We did eventually make it home and hubby has gone to get a new starter motor this morning, the sun is shining and we're all having a day off to recover, lets hope it's the start of a new and fantastic week with slightly less in the way of broken down cars and nips from grumpy donkeys!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

In Conversation with... James from Homefinders Plus

Welcome dear readers to a whole new feature on my blog where I'll be talking to my business investors and other inspirational business people.

You might not want to relocate to this castle but James and his team at Homefinders plus will help you find your dream home.


First up is James from Homefinders Plus, a relocation agent in the Peak district, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Derby.  Think of Homefinders Plus as the matchmaker between buyer and property, like Kirsty and Phil from Location, Location, Location, James will find you a choice of perfect properties you'll want to move straight into.

James sent me this delightful image taken from the bottom of the garden where Homefinders Plus is based in Glossop, Derbyshire, oh how I love Derbyshire and the Peak District, Matlock Bath is one of my favourite places in the whole of the UK



I asked James 10 probing questions, these were his answers - 


1.  What's on your desk right now, tell me 3 things you can see on your desk 

A laptop, a very large map of the area we cover with lots of pins in them, one of my partners’ many handbags.

2.  Sum up your business in 3 words

Location, Location, Location!

3.  What inspires you? 

Successfully helping people and seeing them happy.

4.  What are you working on right now? 

A number of different clients requiring all kinds of houses, from an equestrian smallholding to a retirement flat.

5.  Any exciting things coming up that you want the world to know about? 

Travel will be severely hampered when the Tour de France comes to the Peak District in a couple of weeks time! Oh, and I’m planning to get married next year.

6.  Imagine you met an alien, how would you explain your business to them? 

I am sure Phil and Kirstie’s programmes even go into outer space, however if not, we simply find houses for people who don’t have the time, money or motivation to do it themselves. We search, we find, we negotiate, followed by monitoring of the sale through to completion. It sounds easy, there is a lot of hard work but many rewards at the end.

7.  Favourite Inspirational Quote? 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now (Chinese proverb).

8.  Favourite music to work to? 

None, although any sport in the background is relaxing!

9.  Where do you see yourself/your business in 5 years time

If people haven’t got bored with the programmes on TV by then, I’d like to be the second Phil Spencer.

10.  So many people are choosing to start their own businesses every day, what's your top tip to encourage them? 

Prepare, take free courses and believe.

If you're a busy professional wishing to re-locate in the Peak District, Manchester, Sheffield, Derby or Leeds why not let James from Homefinders Plus do all of the hard work so you can move into your perfect property tomorrow.


I'm very jealous of the amazing landscape in which Homefinders Plus is based, the Peak District in Derbyshire really is one of the prettiest places on earth, when I'm a millionaire James you can find me my perfect weekend hideaway.

To get in touch with James and his team at Homefinders Plus you can find him  - 



I'd personally like to thank James for becoming a business investor in the UK Cityscapes project, if you or your business would like to get involved with a year of sustained marketing on this here blog with a lovely banner ad and more please do get in touch.




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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lichfield, City 13/69, The UK Cityscapes Project

Lichfield is the 13th UK City I've visited of the 69 cities in the UK Cityscape's project, it's one of the smallest cities in the UK with a population of around 32, 219 (at the time of the 2011 census) but don't let it's small size stop you from visiting because it's beautiful, it's really very beautiful and steeped in history, for example the creator of the dictionary, Dr Samuel Johnson, was born in Lichfield as did the father of Charles Darwin and of course if you love Cathedrals it's home to the incredibly beautiful Lichfield Cathedral which really does impose on their city landscape.

I spent around half a day in Lichfield, I might have been able to stretch it out a little longer but it's not a city you could entertain the kids for days in but of course you're only a half hour on the train from Birmingham New Street station so it's the perfect destination for a day trip.

It really is a very pretty city with lots of listed buildings (over 230 of them) and the streets are a joyous amble amongst quaint little shops, coffee houses and restaurants as well as some of the bigger named stores which are in the newer buildings.

I recommend lunch at the Tudor of Lichfield, delicious food in historic surroundings at a reasonable price, what more could you ask for?!

One of the things I did while in Lichfield was took a trip up one of the spires of the St Marys Centre,which is home to the Lichfield Heritage Centre, the views of Lichfield and the Cathedral are amazing from up there and I want to say a personal note of thanks to Derek Lloyd who was my tour guide, amazing man who's family heritage lies in Lichfield, even better than I was the only one on the tour so I had all of that knowledge to myself.

Shall we see the images of Lichfield?







I love this, can you imagine going out of your front door every day and having this enormous beautiful building at the end of your street?















This bottom image is the official UK Cityscapes image because it just dominates the skyline of beautiful Lichfield.



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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wedding photography at the Garden Station, near Langley in Northumberland

Something a little bit different today dear reader, I shot a wedding on Saturday and I am so excited about it that I thought I would share a couple of the images.  The venue was the Garden Station near Langley, Hexham in Northumberland. Being an occasional wedding photographer in Northumberland I love to go to places which are completely different and  this place is so completely unique, it used to be a railway station and now it's a cafe/potting shed/amazing wedding venue.  The wedding I shot was completely outdoors, probably the most laid back wedding I have ever shot in fact.

Let me share with you just a couple of images - 


This was the ceremony, just Dan and Claire, no officiant (they did the legal stuff early in the morning at the nearby registry office) just the two of them saying beautiful words which made tears roll down my cheeks, what a special thing indeed, I actually think there wasn't a dry eye in the house, I don't know about you but when a groom cries I cry, there's something breathtaking about a man over come with emotion because he's giving himself to the one he adores for the rest of his life.

                         

This next image is pure magic, let me talk to you about this image, if you're not a photographer and don't care about the wonder of Fuji then scroll past now but here goes - When I converted to the Fuji X-Pro1 the one thing I missed was off camera flash portraits, especially at weddings, well this weekend with the use of my Canon EX600 RT, a sync lead and a pair of triggers from Ebay I was back in the off camera flash game, of course it means you have to do everything manually but when it comes to off camera flash that's all I've ever done anyway, this was 200iso 1/250 at f8 with the flash at 1/1, shot at around 3 in the afternoon with the 35mm f1.4 on Midsummers day I got to create an evening portrait, something I love doing, 1 top tip though, never look directly at the flash or you'll burn your retinas!

I'm editing this wedding at the moment and I can't wait to share the whole story of Dan and Claires day with you all, it really was the most perfect way to spend a midsummers day.

If you would like to speak to me about shooting your wedding, I only take weddings on an extremely limited basis and book far in advance but do email me and we can have a chat about your magical day.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Birmingham, City 12/69 in the UK cityscapes Project

The thing about Birmingham dear reader is that a lot of people think they know all about it, they don't like it and when I asked for people to choose their least favourite city they chose Birmingham.

Birmingham is City 12/69 in the UK Cityscapes project

I've just spent the last couple of days in Birmingham and it's busy, crowded but it's also beautiful and steeped in history, there's do much to do that it's a place where you could safely entertain kids of any age for several days and if like me you aren't a driver then worry not as everything is packed into one big city centre.

Birmingham has a population of around 1,085,400 (At the time of the last census in 2012) and I think it definitely feels like the buildings are layered very closely together in parts of the city but there are parts which are much more rural and beautiful and did you know that there are more trees in Birmingham (over 6 million) than there are in Paris, it's also rumoured that there are more miles of canal than in Venice but that depends on who you speak to or what you read.  Did you also know that Lawn Tennis was first played in Birmingham, yes it was in 1865!

I stayed with Rob and Sarah 2 wedding photographers in Birmingham, they live around half an hour away in green and pleasant lands surrounded by the Lickey Hills, I'm so lucky to have friends all over the country and in fact when I reached Birmingham I was expertly guided around by James an amazing portrait photographer in Birmingham.  It's always a pleasure when you meet someone so enthusiastic about their city that they have so much to show you, we walked for literally miles, which is probably a good thing as when I finally stopped walking on Wednesday my knee decided it was going to make my life an agony, consequentially I'm now wearing a full on knee support, fashion at its highest!

I think the thing I loved the most about Birmingham was the canal which basically runs through the middle of the city, I even went on a Barge for a recreational trip out to leafy Edgbaston, you must take an hour to take a pleasure cruise on a canal which has been featured in the 1970's musical Take Me High, a musical starring Cliff Richard in which he invents the Brum Burger, a musical about a burger bar was never going to be the biggest success really, what's next I hear you ask, Mcdonalds the Musical?

the canal also featured in the classic soap opera Crossroads and I do believe the voice narrating the tour was that of Paul Henry who played hapless handyman Benny for many years.

Of course one of the first things you think of when you mention Birmingham is the cadburys chocolate factory, sadly I didn't have time to visit or maybe it's just as well as Looby and Abigail wouldn't have been impressed if I didn't take them!

shall we see some photos then?


I love the Birmingham Library building, in fact in all of my UK Cityscape travels so far I think it's my favourite new building









I loved the gardens that they have on top of the library building, a great use of space
















The Bullring is another piece of new and quirky architecture that I love, it's a bold statement on the landscape and you know how I like a bold statement



This is the official UK Cityscapes Image from Birmingham, the rest are of course Postcards from the City










This is the inside of Birmingham Cathedral, incredibly beautiful building


The view from the Lickey Hills on the outskirts of Birmingham






I had to end of an image of the bull really!

If you've enjoyed this post please do stick around for the next one which is Lichfield, City 13/69 in the UK Cityscapes project



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