Some weeks ago we’d noticed a beautiful little wren’s built into a small coil of blue nylon rope that was hanging from a step ladder in the garden shed. However, being only just past the tail end of winter, we thought no more of it at the time and we didn’t visit the shed again until the garden suddenly exploded into life a few weeks ago.
The wren’s nest was still there but, as there didn’t seem to have been any activity in or around it, we thought perhaps it had been abandoned. Imagine our surprise and delight when it came time to get out the ‘big strimmer’ and we opened up the shed again to find a nest full of hungry little chicks! (We counted six)
Firstly, this is one of only two successful shots of the totality that I achieved last night (at 03:30 CET to be precise). Living close to the Canal Latérale and the River Garonne, as we do, we get a lot of early morning mist at this time of year. As the eclipse developed, the temperature fell and the camera and tripod were really quite wet with condensation (although with the Nikon D810, that’s not an issue). However, I had terrible problems with the front element of the lens constantly fogging. And then, to cap it all, whilst I was wiping the moisture off the lens, I inadvertently moved the focus ring – I was using manual focus – and, of course, by that time, the image was so dim that refocusing was impossible.
Secondly, as many of you will know, we have a ruined 13thC church across the way from our house and I wanted to take the photo from behind that so that I could have the belfry as my out of focus ‘Earthbound anchor object’ (to give some context to the shot and to make it more unusual and interesting). However, the field behind the church was full of maize and I found that there was nowhere for me to set up the tripod that would give me a clear view of both the church and the moon. So, in the end I shot it from our lawn, using our poplar trees as my ‘Earthbound object’.
Still, there’ll be another chance in 2033🙂
Finally, 4 years after it was first discussed, the book on water-lilies, for which Pete was commissioned to supply photos, is going to print. He agreed the picture content of the book and the jacket photo with the publisher today. The book will be available in the autumn from the usual book-sellers worldwide – ISBN: 9781870673839. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that he’s disappointed with it; instead of the coffee table book we thought it was going to be, with lots of beautiful photos of water-plants accompanied by explanatory text, it’s become a book for water-lily purists specifically about Bory Latour-Marliac’s hybrids, which means loads of text accompanied by some photos. It’s a shame. But never mind, it’s Pete’s first commission ever to be published worldwide in all markets simultaneously – which is nice – and it’s good PR for us anyway.
Those guests who have been on previous Advanced Photo Weeks with us will recall photographing our speedy ‘Tour de France’ cyclist neighbour, Rowland Cockin. Unfortunately however, Rowland has now sold his property here which means that we’ve had to search for a suitable ‘action’ alternative.
We’re happy to announce that we have today finalised arrangements with a local equestrian centre and, as of June this year, horses and riders will be the future subjects for our action photography sessions🙂
VE day is a public holiday in France. Jill and I attended the 70th anniversary commemoration held in the village at 10:30 this morning. Thanks were given to, and a minute’s silence held for, the members of the French and Allied Forces who lost their lives during the conflict.
Afterwards we retired to the village hall for an apéritif. We were amazed by the number of people asking us about yesterday’s election in the UK.
We are very, very sad to have to tell everyone who knew her that our lovely Labrador and great companion, Holly, died suddenly yesterday, Easter Saturday.
We took some friends to Bergerac airport at 14:00, leaving Holly fit and well in the garden. When we arrived back home at 16:00 we found her collapsed on the lawn unable to move and having breathing difficulties. Our retired French veterinary friend, Georges, came over straight away to examine her and confirmed that she was almost completely paralysed. We took her immediately to the vets in le Mas d’Agenais where, thankfully, they had someone working an Easter rota.
However, after examining her, the vet told us that Holly had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, and that she was already, by that time, almost dead and could not be saved. To prevent any further suffering we agreed that the vet should put her to sleep and we stayed with her through that process. The vet is arranging for her to be cremated and we intend burying her ashes here in the garden she considered to be hers as much as ours.
As all our guests discovered, Holly had a quirky, individual, but loveable, character and, even at just over 11 years old, she was still a remarkably fit and active dog. She has been with us through every single one of our Painting & Photography seasons and every guest will recall how she was always there in the car park, waiting for us, tail wagging furiously wanting food and a fuss (usually in that order), when we all returned from our days out.
We know that many of you who came back to us for repeated visits got to know Holly particularly well, some of you often taking her for early morning or late afternoon walks along the canal, so we know that you’ll miss her too.
Pete and Jill
Lagruere, 5th April 2015
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Pete & Jill