Monthly Archives: October 2014

A year in the life of my camera: 400 and 500

Just continuing my photographic yearbook – shots 400 and 500. I wasn’t very active with my camera for the early months of January and February – the world is cold and still during those months and I did little other than work and walk. The snowdrops are always very significant to me – those first colours and signs that winter is on its way out. But it is so much more than that, and these snowdrops are too.

Photo 400

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Not a sign of spring for me any longer, but a symbol of young lives cut short in the dead of winter. Think Seamus Heaney is with me on that one.

Photo 500

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Then the floods began – four years and three floods. I do like the water on the fields though. Plus, the sound of a joyous Heston romping through the water is just one of life’s little treasured moments – even if I do have to clean him up afterwards.

It’s nice looking through all these photos from the year though – it all seems like such a long time ago and my memory is very bad; that’s why I love my camera.

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A year in the life of my camera: 200 and 300

Yesterday, I realised I’d had my camera for a year, and I thought it would be nice to run through every 100 shots to see what my year in the life of a camera has looked like. I have no doubt I’ll be up to 6000 shots by the end of the day as I’m doing a doggie Christmas photoshoot this afternoon.

Shot 200

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A craft project that I haven’t yet finished. Shame on me. When I finish this pair of socks I’m knitting, I’m going to get back on and finish these hearts. I planned on sticking a back on them, stuffing them and making a chain of them for Christmas – you can see I went kind of Christmassy with the sequins. The denim was getting pretty hard to sew – think that was the problem. I quit so easily in the face of difficulty!

Shot 300

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If I’m not mistaken, this is the beginning of my 52 Mondays project in January. Amazing how much that landscape changes in a year. All the winter wheat is now in, as well as the rapeseed. It looked like this on Monday.

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Funny to think that by Christmas I’d taken only 300 photos – and then it took off like a rocket. To be fair, that is because I end up deleting about 75% of the dog shots I take. Dogs are not easy to photograph!

Also, though, winter is not pretty like the other seasons. Poor winter. I promise to take more shots of you this year!

52 Mondays #43

Yes, I know it isn’t Monday! I’m trying to catch up before it is too late!

52 Mondays43I love this time of year. It’s all about crisp mornings and warm fires, hot soup and days where you go from needing your winter thermals to feeling like you are being boiled alive by mid-afternoon. It’s like the year is giving you one last shot at being warm before the winter arrives. It is without compare my favourite season – when the clocks go back I have an extra hour in the morning and the day feels more relaxed.

I don’t mind the dark evenings – just an excuse to break out the knitting. I’m still on a pair of socks I started in about April. Oh well. The heel is turned and it’s all easy from here on in. I confess I need something other than socks though, for a little while. I’ve been getting busy on Ravelry trying to find things I want to knit next. I have been knitting a new scarf every year, which is something I’ll probably get round to later on – I am probably going to go back to knitting Carlos and Arne’s Christmas baubles as they are relatively quick and keep me from getting bored and putting them to one side.

It is a full year since I picked up my lovely Canon camera, my 40th birthday present from my family – and oh, how I have enjoyed it! Can you believe I have taken five thousand five hundred photos? I was going to post every 100th photo, but that still would be 55 photos! Perhaps I will do that over the next month? I’ll see! My camera goes everywhere with me and I am totally in love with it. I hope to be able to pick up a couple of second-hand lenses over the next year or so, so that I can get even better shots. Still, I love the way so many of these have turned out!

First shot

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The first I took was this shot, this time last year. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t start with a photo of my dogs. I suspect there are an awful lot of dog shots in here! Two more dogs later and I’ve still got similar photos to share.

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Except now there isn’t much room for me between all of the beasts. Oh well.

Shot 102

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A hundred photos later and it is the first frosts. This is the lake at La Côte du Boeuf in Verneuil. I’m guessing it was my magazine run, and it was obviously a frosty one! Last winter was so mild – I do wonder if this one will be horribly cold. I hope not.

I’m out in the garden today, then a couple of classes this evening. Still got a fairly sizeable translation project to finish off which I am enjoying immensely – love it when work is fun!

52 Mondays #42

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Well, I missed a week that I didn’t think I’d missed. Ho hum. It’s been busy as anything though things are settling down a little. The main busy-ness in my two-week hiatus has been the whopping Hope Association Booksale, which raised 20,433€ this year – another record-breaker. All the money is split between refuges and associations, helping animals in need across the region.

IMG_5285Verity, Jocelyn and I ran a stand for the Refuge de l’Angoumois, where we walk dogs. Well, I say we walk dogs. Jocelyn is apprentice-in-training to Nicky, the dog groomer, and I take photos. This is recently becoming videos – you’ll understand how far things have come when you know that most dogs had a face shot and a body shot on arrival and then not much else – the staff have more than enough to do besides trying to take appealing photos – and so often, the dogs are gone before a photo has made an impact.

Our stand was very busy – often busy enough to warrant needing three or four people talking to interested individuals. Fingers crossed, but two dogs have found a home off the back of the event, and hundreds of people now know there is a refuge when they didn’t before. I spent the week before printing off the prettiest pictures along with a bit of info about the dogs. Ralf earned over 100€ with his ‘Euro-A-Pet’ booth.

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He even found a girlfriend, bless him. He had a lovely time and met lots of doggies. He seems to get very upset if dogs don’t come over and say hello to him, and is fascinated by the little dogs and the kittens. Both Frank and Harry found a home (yes!) and I am very glad to have been able to find homes for all five kitties. To be surrounded by such a caring community makes all the difference – and so many people said that about the booksale – it’s the people who make the event magnificent.

Last week was a tough refuge week. Two dogs died – unusual I know – but one of them was Lou, the Leonberg cross. He was coming up to ten years old, so he was old for a big dog, but that is beside the point. He had been at the refuge for four years. Sadly, so few people want a big dogs.

LouLou had a stomach torsion on Thursday – something big dogs can be prone to – and even though it was operated on quickly, he didn’t make it. It’s beyond sad to me that such a handsome and marvellous dog can spend four years waiting for a home. He was gentle and sweet. I had lots of kisses from him this time last week when I was doing his video montage.

The other dog was a mistreatment case that had come in – the second from the same guy – and the dog died from secondary infections. That’s the second dog this year that has died at the refuge as a result of the actions of their previous owners. You really do get to see the best and the worst of people. Saturday wasn’t much better. Verity and I went to help out in the morning as they were short-staffed and I ended up transporting three kittens to the vet to be put to sleep – two suspected to have feline typhus. Between coryza, cat flu and typhus, many of the kittens this year have been finished off before they have even started life and it makes me really angry that people just let their cats breed with no forethought or care. Every litter takes a year off the life of the mother and it’s just another form of cruelty if you ask me. Fox and Bird, my two beautiful males, born with feline HIV; Clint, left to die with cat flu at less than four weeks old. It makes me so angry that people are so thoughtless – all for the sake of a few quid savings in not getting their cats sterilised. The people who drop these litters off at the refuge are little better. They wash their hands and it becomes someone else’s problem. They subject these kittens to a short, miserable and painful life, mitigated only somewhat by the fact they are cared for and looked after in their final days.

Today, I am taking video footage of six old-timers, dogs who have racked up an enormous amount of time between them for no good reason than they are big and they are male. Ufo, Wolf, Paulo, Nichmann and Artiste are up first. Then hopefully the three brothers, Usty, Tino and Edge. Hopefully it will help them find a home before it is too late for them to enjoy it.

Yesterday, I had my first day off in ages – lit a fire, went for a walk with the dogs and came back to a warm house and a lot of admin. Though it’s the holidays, I’m still running about 75% of my lessons, so I’m not being too hard on myself for not getting more done.

Time to get the cleaning started and get on with the day’s tasks I think!

52 Mondays #40

First grey week for a while and the first rain we’ve had for a while.

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That’s next year’s rape seed in the field on the left – coming on great guns.

It’s not just a problem to navigate the rain showers this week, but the hunters too. Thursdays and Sundays are the busy hunt days, so we go off up to the forest on those days where the paths are quiet and the hunts are more organised. Nobody goes off-lead if they can’t stay within 10 metres of me.

It’s been a busy Dames kind of a week this week. I ran a course on blogging on Monday (this is not my only blog, or even my most successful blog, but it is my favourite blog to write). Don’t feel cheated on, I beg you. Though it was wet and misty, it was still a fabulous morning. Village halls in rural France on a Monday morning might not strike you as the most vibrant and idea-packed kind of places, but ours was. I love sessions like that. We stopped for lunch at the local restaurant and I listened to other women describe perfectly the kind of life I lead too. We all moved over here to renovation projects (minor) and bigger gardens, to spend more time in the garden and a bit of time prettying up the decor, only to end up a few years later in a mad swirl of work and social lives and family life and every single one of us had put our potager plans for 2014 on hold this year.

I’ve also been writing a mini self-evaluation pack for the ladies (and myself of course!) and their businesses – and having done the time assessment this week, I am pretty sure where I need to make changes in 2015. I need to be more productive and less busy! Time for some serious rethinks and shake-ups. It really was a wake-up call. Perhaps now is the time to say that I started a pair of socks in March and I am STILL knitting them. That’s how busy my life has been. It has been a fury!

The self-evaluation pack sounds like a rigorous and frightening wake-up call, but it is pretty gentle and upbeat. I’m hoping it will be useful for lots of ladies in business out there. I’m pleased with it – though of course, typically, it is unfinished. That’s a tomorrow job. I need to find a more gentle name for it though. At the moment it sounds like the colonic irrigation of the business world.

Next week, I get to wear several hats all at once, because it is the enormous Hope Association booksale. A few of us are running a stand for the refuge we volunteer at. I’ve got 150+ dog posters to print out – so that’s my doggie weekend set out. I saw a cute photo of a dog in a kissing booth, so I’m going to rent out Amigo and Ralf for dog snogs. All proceeds to the refuge. I’m sincerely hoping the two little cats in my bathroom get to find a family – they sit looking out of the window all sad and forlorn. Life in a laundry is no fun. Sadly, with the dogs and the main road and the particularly cat-unfriendly wildlife round these parts, being an outdoor cat in my neighbourhood is a job with a short lifespan. They are cuties though. I just can’t spend any time with them, and that’s sad.

Hopefully, we’ll raise a bit more awareness of the refuge and maybe even find some dogs some homes! So many returns at the moment for absolutely pathetic reasons. Last week, someone brought a dog back because he digs. Honestly, if that’s a refundable situation, I need to take mine back. I’ve just decided their holes are where I should plant trees. I know it is impossible to live with a dog that just isn’t fitting in to your lifestyle though. I just wish people would be honest. There are teething problems you know you can cope with, and teething problems that deprive you of sleep and rest and safety. And there are homes for all dogs, I believe that.

I’ll also be touting the Hope Association calendars, which I was very happy to collate. I REALLY hope there aren’t any errors or spelling mistakes, though there are bound to be. It all ended up a bit of a rush on my behalf, but next year will be better. Sneak preview of the front cover for you all…

front pageAnd yes, those are my four at the bottom. I figure they’ve all been helped by HOPE to some degree. Tilly came to me via the Hope Association. Amigo and Ralf both came from Mornac SPA which is supported by Hope. Heston, well, he’s the most tenuous of links, but he is just so very handsome! I’ve put lots of the Hope volunteers adopted dogs on the inside pages, though. It was really nice to do – collecting all those photos of happy endings. So many people who work so very hard for the animals in their care as well. So many associations and refuges benefit from Hope’s support that it means the booksale weekend has become a lifeline. Such a mammoth organisational and voluntary task for so many people as well – I promise to give you photos – normally, I just get bogged down with books.

It’s also a Dame-tastic weekend as well, and I’ve got lunch planned with a few of the ladies up in Deux-Sèvres. Might as well multi-task whilst I can.

I’m pretty sure that by Tuesday the 21st, when it is the holidays and when I have my first day off in three weeks, I will be quite ready for a rest! I said earlier this week though, if I wanted to slow down, I could. It would be very easy not to do any of it. I just love each of my different lives here so very much indeed.

Have a lovely weekend, whatever you have got planned.