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29 October 2014

Pumpkin Patch

Over the last couple of weeks I've been lucky enough to be able to cross several things off my Autumn Bucket List - you may have spotted a roast dinner and an open fire already, and last weekend was also a similarly autumnal weekend with lots of winter-y candles, snoozing under blankets on the sofa and an amazing pint of  local cider and Ploughmans lunch in a little café in the forest.  Ticking off things on my Autumn Bucket List is definitely more fun than trucking through my personal to-do list - I think I am going to add pub lunches and conker collecting to all my to-do lists to make them a little more fun to complete!

Last Sunday afternoon we visited our local pumpkin patch and chose a pumpkin each for carving later on.  I drive past the pumpkin patch every day on my way to and from work (in the summer you can go strawberry picking there) and have been enviously eyeing all of the families huddled together in scarves and gloves choosing pumpkins.  There's even little sledges for children to use to carry their pumpkins back to the till if they're too heavy to carry!

We spent a little while nosing our way around the patch and trying to find the perfect pumpkins.  Sadly I think we were a little late as some of the pumpkins looked like the birds had got there first, or were on the turn.  It was still a lot of fun though and I think we found two good'uns! We are away this weekend so hopefully they'll still be prime for carving when we get back....

Pumpkin patch Pumpkin patch Pumpkin patch Pumpkin patch Pumpkin patch Pumpkin patch Pumpkin patch

coat: reiss {old} // jumper: zara // trousers: 7 for all mankind {old}


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26 October 2014

Photography tips for shooting in the forest

You probably all know by now that I have a deep love affair with the forest.  For me it's a magical place to escape to; a place of fresh air, nature and calm.  And of course, there's no better time to explore the forest than in the Autumn - the changing colours of the trees and all of the sights, sounds, and smells of my favourite season make it the perfect time to visit.

Forest Holidays challenged me to write three tips for enjoying the forest as part of their '30 days of Autumn' project, and as one of my favourite ways to enjoy the forest is to get out and about with my camera, I thought I'd share my tips for taking photographs in the forest (except I got a little excited and shared five tips instead of three!)  I'm no expert in photography but you don't have to be to be able to capture the beauty of the woods - it's all about having an eye for the things around you.  I like to treat it a little like a scavenger hunt - scouting out the hidden treasures of the forest - the shiny conkers, the bright red berries, and the little bugs and birds just waiting to be discovered.  So keep your eyes and ears open, and your camera in your hand - and we'll begin.  I headed out with my Canon 1100D for a day in the New Forest to capture these - but you don't need a digital SLR to take beautiful forest photos - any old compact camera, or even your phone camera, will do.

1. G o  m a c r o

Macro photography just means 'close-up photography'.  Most cameras are capable of shooting macro photography - a lot of compact cameras also have a macro mode or setting (it looks like a picture of a flower).  This means that it will be able to focus on a much closer object than normal (i.e. something immediately in front of the lens) and will often use a smaller aperture, meaning that the area around the object falls out of focus or looks blurry.

Now for the fun part - macro photography can capture some amazing results, and only involves sticking your camera really close to what you want to shoot.  The forest is perfect for macro photography as there are so many beautiful plants, flowers, bugs, and other interesting finds.  You can get some really creative results just by playing around with focussing and pointing your lens in different places.

Berries Close up Leaf

2. T r y  d i f f e r e n t  a n g l e s

I like to have fun with photography, and to try and come home with a photograph someone else might not have taken, or thought of (that's why, as above, you'll find me poking my lens into plants and zooming in on leaves and creepy-crawlies - no chocolate box pictures for me!)  One of the things I love to do is to try slightly different angles and viewpoints.  I often plonk my camera on the floor and shoot along the ground, especially when it's carpeted with pine cones or crunchy leaves.

Down low Leaves

3. L o o k  f o r  i n t e r e s t i n g  t e x t u r e s


As part of my 'photo scavenger hunt' I'm always looking for different textures and colours.  Water bubbling down a stream, a curly, fluffy dog coat, a gnarled tree stump - these all make for interesting captures. Look for spiky horse chesnuts, silky feathers, dewy grass, wet bracken - or even a mix of textures (I love the contrast of the shiny conkers against Tom's muddy hands in my last post).  Shoot interesting textures up close too, or from different angles.

Waterfall BodhiGnarled tree

4. R u l e  o f  t h i r d s

One of the things my Dad taught me about photography when I was younger was about the 'rule of thirds'.  The idea of the rule of thirds is to think about the compositon of a photo in order to make it more pleasing to the eye.  Essentially all you do, is divide the photo into thirds both horizontally and vertically.  When you're taking a photograph, try and position the important elements of the photograph along those lines, where they meet.  (You can Google this for more examples if I haven't explained that very well).

Rosie

This isn't a perfect example, but you can see how it makes it more aesthetically pleasing that the branch I'm sitting on and the line of the branches behind me split the photo horizontally into thirds. I am then positioned mostly in the final vertical third of the photograph.  When shooting landscapes, it's useful to remember the rule of thirds to make the photo look more natural.  Try starting off by placing the horizon along one of the horizontal lines rather than immediately in the centre of the frame, and try and find other points of interest to add to the composition.  (Many cameras also have a 'grid' mode if you toggle the display modes, which can help with where to position things).

5. T r y  b l a c k  a n d  w h i t e

Even though the beautiful colours of the season clearly lend themselves to colour photography at this time of year, don't be afraid to try out black and white photography.  Again, many cameras have this as a setting on the camera itself, or you can use photo editing software to change this afterwards. You can create some really moody, arty photographs just by switching from colour to black and white - and again, black and white is great for showing off different textures and surfaces.

IMG_4425


I really hope you've enjoyed my photography tips and that they've encouraged you to head out into the nearest forest with your camera and get snapping away! Often I find that my favourite photos are the ones where I try out something different or walk off the beaten track to find a hidden treasure - the beauty of digital photography is that you can just delete the ones that don't work out, so get snapping and experimenting, get muddy, and have fun!

Don't forget to check out the other tips from Forest Holidays - you can also get 5% off a Forest Holiday by using the code VWAUTUMN if you book before 31 December 2014.

What are your favourite photography tips for snapping in the forest?

All photographs taken on my Canon 1100D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens.  Edited in Photoshop - mostly using VSCO Actions Pack.

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24 October 2014

A weekend in the Cotswolds

Having friends spread all around the country can feel a little lonely sometimes, especially when you long for a few friends close by that you can pop over and have a natter and eat cake with.  But as much as I'd love to have my best friends live that little bit closer, it comes a close second being able to plan wonderful weekends away where you load up the car with wellies, coats, an excited dog and a boyfriend who can't decide quite how many bottles of Badger ales to take with him, and hit the road.

My lovely friend Becki currently lives in the Cotswolds with her fiancé Joe, and kindly invited Tom and I to stay with them last weekend.  They only moved there fairly recently, so we hadn't actually been to stay at that house before, and I was not prepared for quite how much I'd fall in love with where they live.

The sat nav took us through winding country roads, past farms and open fields, when we finally arrived at their front door in Gloucestershire.  Rolling up to their driveaway, we were greeted by their dog, Bu (a whippet), who Bodhi enjoyed a very excitable reunion with whilst we unloaded our bags.

Heart

We were welcomed into their cosy kitchen - their Aga making the whole room indescribably toasty. Bodhi immediately climbed into Bu's dog bed next to the Aga whilst we gossiped over tea and planned our weekend. We spent the afternoon drinking ciders and ales in a lovely little pub in Cricklade and then headed back to their house for dinner.  The evening was similarly relaxing - spent eating good food, drinking margheritas and scoffing chocolate by the fire.  Perfection.  That night we slept soundly in their spare room, the windows open, listening to the sound of pheasants crowing outside.

Open fire

The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely brunch of poached eggs, spinach and sourdough bread, before pulling on wellies and coats for a bracing dog walk.

Muddy wellies

This is their dog, Bu, waiting excitedly by the front gate.  Bu is short for Mbuzi, which is swahili for goat.

IMG_4144

We set off through the muddy fields, the dogs galloping through the dirt and us following closely behind. Checked shirts were clearly the outfit du jour for the boys! I bought Tom's from Primark a couple of weeks ago, it is fleece lined and looks so cosy.

Muddy fields

I discovered on this trip that I have a bit of a thing for gates.  Rusty old gates, rustic wooden gates, gates that open into expanses of field, or that hold the promise of a winding footpath beyond...

Gate

Tom spent some time collecting conkers.  I adore conkers - the smell, the texture, the way the Autumn light glints off them.  They're like hidden treasures tucked under leaves and in the undergrowth, waiting to be found.

Conkers
Branch

My wellies got stuck in a bog, which Tom found very amusing.  We strode down, and up, hills, and found another rather charming gate...

Gate

... which led down another rather boggy and muddy path...

Rosie Rosie
Tom

Bodhi didn't mind a bit getting absolutely caked in mud however, or having a roll around in the cool grass whilst the humans were taking their time climbing the hill.

Bodhi Bodhi

We headed back up to the road with thoughts of a roast dinner filling our minds.  We had to climb over - guess what... another gate - to find our way back.


Gate

When we got back to the house, Becki showed off her little vegetable patch and picked a courgette whilst the chickens clucked around the garden and I secretly wished for a life full of open fires, chickens and vegetable patches!

Chickens

But after all that walking, there was one thing, and one thing on the agenda - a roast dinner in a country pub. With an open fire.  And an impressive cider menu.  Okay, okay, there were three things on the agenda.  But luckily we managed to find them all in The Wild Duck at Ewen.

It was very busy when we entered the bar, with lots of people crowding around and waiting for tables.  Despite this, this little pup had an armchair all to himself...

Wild Duck

The pub was the perfect, cosy little countryside bolthole, with hops hanging on the wall, the fire crackling away, dogs snoozing under tables and the smell of roast dinners wafting round every corner.

Wild Duck

We ordered four roast beefs, and they didn't disappoint.

Roast dinner

Crispy roast potatoes that required extensive sawing to access the fluffy potato within, humougous Yorkshire puddings, tender beef and a good slosh of gravy.

With full bellies, Tom and I headed home to Dorset, with a sleepy Bodhi at our feet, and our own dreams of wood burning stoves and planting vegetables.  Sadly the Cotswolds are too far from the sea for Tom to consider living there but it truly was the perfect weekend away, and I can't wait to go back.

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