Arty journeys...


Monday, 28 September 2015

Lunar Eclipse

None of the solar or lunar eclipses I have ever seen have been particularly spectacular - but I live in hope . . . so

11 minutes past 8 yesterday evening and the bright full moon had risen above the roof tops

When I went to bed I set the alarm because I really didn't want to sleep through the eclipse in case this one was a good one. I wasn't disappointed. By 2 a.m. the moon was dazzlingly bright and the garden was bathed in light. The earth's shadow was just beginning to creep onto the top left area of the moon

I slept for a little while - woke and took several very poor photos as the shadow crept further across the moon. I think the extreme contrasts of light and dark were confusing my camera and the camera was trying to compensate - I didn't want it to do that but I didn't know how to stop it. I'm still using auto - which is usually fine but not in this situation. By the time I was able to take a decent photo the moon was mostly in shadow and I didn't manage to catch much of the red effect. It was challenging to get the camera to focus on the decreasing slip of silver

By 3.15 a.m. the moon was in shadow and I went back to bed for a while. I set the alarm for 4 a.m. but woke before then. The moon was still in shadow - I was surprised how long the shadow lasted for. I couldn't get the camera to focus properly for a while but by 4.23 a.m. a tiny portion of the moon was glowing again and I was able to take some more photos

It didn't take long for the glowing crescent to increase as the earth's shadow rolled across the moon

I found it interesting to notice how the moon seemed distorted while only a small amount was showing properly - a bit like an eyeball shape with a bulge at the lens

The moon had lost its bulge by 4.44 a.m.

4.59 a.m.

and finally - 5.40 a.m. This photo was taken a little before the early morning mist engulfed the moon as it set

I didn't get much sleep last night and I know I will suffer for it today but some things are worth it. I'm very glad I've seen a proper eclipse at last

Thank you very much for joining me

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Quick Coombe Wood trip with a bonus

This was just a very quick trip to track down the red object on the small tree that my friend in our art group had told me about. The red object that I had been so sure wasn't there - but I had caught an out of focus glimpse in one of my photos of the leaves, that I only noticed when I was looking at them on the computer later on

The gardener was clearing leaves. I told him what I had come to find - and he told me that it's a Cornus. I've given up relying on my memory - my notebook came out straight away

I stopped to photograph these variegated plants with crumpled peachy orange bell flowers on the way past. The previous day I had noticed the gardener digging out all the sunflowers, marigolds etc. from the bed at the top of the first section. He had cleared everything except for these which left a very clear view of them

A spiders web glinted rainbow colours under the yew arch

I spotted one Cornus berry - they're more like a cluster of fused berries.

Each round bobble has an opening at the centre and something is protruding. Frustratingly none of my photos were clear enough to see exactly what is going on here

I was playing with the focus on my camera - when I accidentally focussed on the floor under the tree and was surprised to see quite a few ripe fruits on the ground.

I picked up three berry clusters and took a quick photo before putting them in my pocket, intending to have a better look and take more photos when I got home

I have looked them up since and discovered that they are Cornus Kousa (Kousa Dogwood) and they're supposed to be edible

I was aware that this had to be a brief walk but I needed to include a quick look at some other berries just around the corner. They might be a variety of Euonymus (Spindleberries). The sun was streaming through a gap in the trees and illuminating the berries like baubles on a Christmas tree. Five pale creamy coloured sections on each one blush from the stem to the tips and and then open up to reveal orange oval berries which gradually ease out and drop down on threads till they hang underneath each curved red star casing.  

Nearby there is another tree with similar berries - but there aren't many on this one. They are more shaped and have three or four sections not five. The leaves have fallen off this tree and the pods look more dried out

And a little further round a tree is covered in green "pods" - I want to know what these are going to do next

It was hard not to wander but I was aware that I needed to get home and get some things done so I headed for the gate. I stopped to take a photo - noticing my shadow against the plants that the gardener had left in that freshly dug flower bed.

Then of course I had to photograph the flowers hanging on the plant

The next thing that happened really surprised me (this is the bonus mentioned in the title). The gardener noticed me taking photographs of it and he came over and asked me if I liked these plants. I said I like their crumpled petals and the way the dew sits on them and how they look when they have raindrops on them - and he asked me if I would like one - because his next job was to dig them out because they're not hardy and they need protection in cold weather. Well of course I said yes please - and he dug one out and rested the base of it in a bin liner - while telling me that it's an Abutilon Thompsonii (Variegata) It's quite large - I could only just fit it in my car

The day before I had been thinking of going to the garden centre for something little and cheap to put in an empty tub to give some autumn/winter colour but hadn't gone because I had an incredibly strong feeling that a plant would be provided. I had forgotten all about that until I was driving home (near the turning to the garden centre) when I remembered the tub I had wanted to put something in and the feeling that something would be provided - and I smiled all the way home (it still makes me smile when I think of it). I had been thinking of something little and cheap but I received this instead. Brilliant

The only unfortunate thing was that the three Cornus berries in my pocket were squashed beyond all recognition when I was trying to get the Abutilon into the car.

The sad state of my pocket

The berries must have been much softer than I thought. I scraped the squashed mess out of my pocket with a spoon and put my cardigan in the wash

I had also found a couple of Euonymus berries on the ground and brought them home to photograph more closely - they survived

I settled the Abutilon into the tub just outside the patio doors and took several photos during the afternoon and evening - through the not very clean glass. I was surprised how different the flower looks in different light - sometimes almost strawberry coloured, going through various shades of orange to almost peachy

It's a beautiful day today and I was thinking of going back this morning to see if I could find another Cornus berry cluster under the tree that I could bring home to try and photograph the little details but the car wouldn't start. Oh well - that will have to be another day

Thank you very much for joining me

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Coombe Wood with a friend

This morning I had a thoroughly enjoyable walk with a friend from the past. We had crossed paths briefly a couple of times in the last few years but recently reconnected through Facebook and decided to meet at Coombe Wood for a walk and a good catch up.

Having seen the weather forecast the day before I had expected heavy rain but it had kindly rained earlier. I arrived early and had a short walk - everything was dripping wet

I wanted to have a look at the plant a friend from my art group had told me about. She has one in her garden and she had told me that the seed heads should be doing something interesting now. All the seed heads on this one seem to have fallen off. I couldn't see anything but leaves but looking at the top left corner of the photo below when I got home I think I may have found what I was supposed to be looking for. I will have to go back again and see if I can locate that red blob for a closer look

I went back for another look at these wonderful pods - what a stunning colour combination and neat structure they have

The small plant that looks like frilly salad leaves 

I met my friend and we walked and chatted together. It's so nice when you get together with someone you haven't spoken to for ages but it doesn't matter - you feel perfectly comfortable with them

The robin was sitting in almost exactly the same place in the little tree with the big leaves as it was a few days ago - singing its little heart out

Raindrops sparkled on grass seeds

Buds which were beginning to open had become receptacles for little pools of water

The seeds that my daughter and sister think look like dead woodlice were hanging low with the weight of the raindrops. I think they look like delicate hearts dangling from their arching stems

I narrowly avoided stepping on what I first thought were fallen leaves - we had a closer look and discovered three extremely delicate pastel yellow mushrooms growing in the grass

 The banana flower

There are now two rows of little blobs at regular intervals, under the petals. Each blob has five or six curly, stripy ribbons surrounding it. I'm surprised the light can shine through the peaches and cream coloured petals - they're so thick

The extremely sticky resin on the Korean Pine cone is almost opaque now. I do like the regular pattern of these cones. There are very few cones this year unlike last year

The beauty berries (Callicarpa) are incredible this year - the shrub is absolutely covered in them

The sun came out and lit up a patch of leaves on my favourite acer

My friend noticed the sunlight streaming through these little heart shaped leaves a little further along the path

The colours were gorgeous and the raindrops sparkling on the leaves added natural diamonds. We could imagine these and other things we had seen being inspiration for jewellery

The puff ball mushrooms that I had noticed the other day have all grown so much that some are very cramped

The patterns on them are fascinating and some are much more spiky than others

A few have already burst and spread their spores far and wide

Lovely to see some blue sky through the trees

Thank you very much for joining me