Slow Socks

There was a time that I could churn out a pair of socks in a week, often with a couple of days to spare.  My most speedy of efforts was knitting a whole sock in  a day  – okay it was double knit, but it was man size – whilst waiting for hubby to be seen by doctors, assessed and then going down to theatre for a small operation on a raging cyst on his back, I think my fingers flew through the anxiety.

These days I barely have the time to pick up a sock, I often still carry one, tucked into my camera or hand bag, ready for that moment when the stars and planets align and the urge to knit combines with a moments rest and for a full eclipse a good coffee.  There are weeks that I have gone to my knitting group that I haven’t actually knitted a stitch since the three rows that I did the previous week before the conversation became so bubbly so as to take over the mornings knitting.

And do you know what? I just don’t mind. I have a problem that my socks are falling to bits faster than I am knitting, but we are near to the end of the winter, so that’s not so bad. And if I could just match a few of the odd socks up it would all be fine, if not you’ll be seeing a new invention of hand knitted odd socks on the Mandycharlie catwalk next winter.  Nobody would even notice in London, its so diverse, I am sure it would be the talk of Warwickshire!

These I finished the evening before our day out in Brighton. Pretty aren’t they?  I have no idea of the sock yarn, it would have been a German manufacturer, either Regia or Opal sock 4ply knit on my usual 60 stitches in the round on 2.5mm needles. Brighton 5And as usual they are deliciously toasty warm, everything a good hand knit sock should be.


Brighton Murmurations

Ever since I saw the mesmerising murmurations so beautifully filmed on Countryfile I have wanted to see them for myself.  Not living very close to Norfolk it seemed like a far off dream but then sometime last year I came across an interesting fact, Brighton has its very own flock of starlings that come in to roost on Brighton Pier. Oh how my heart jumped for joy, it would be a dream come true to see a murmuration but to mix it with a trip to the seaside, well that would be a most wonderful treat indeed.

Hubby and I had spent the day gently wandering along the beach, sitting, thinking, eating hot crispy salty chips and then we waited and waited.  We knew we might be too late in the year and hadn’t dared asked the locals if the starlings were still flocking, for fear of disappointment. It was much more exciting to wait. Our tension grew and then giddy with excitement we saw them in the distance a flock of about 15 birds.  I said they were starlings, hubby said they were seagulls and so we bantered as they disappeared.  Were they seagulls? I wasn’t sure, they had that look of a bunch of starlings swooping through the air. Desperately trying not to succumb to the feelings of disappointment I carried on with the waiting. Two minutes later another tiny flock came into view and then I saw them, three or four birds fluttering across the evening sky intent on joining the small group that were weaving patterns in the night sky. Then another three or four fluttered by and my heart leapt, it was indeed the starlings – we weren’t too late!

It was wonderful to watch the flock build and build and then at times separate into two to form streams of birds flowing through the air at times intertwining before rejoining again. Most amusing to watch the latecomers, who’d not noticed the time, probably too busy feeding, flittering on their own across the empty sky trying to catch up with the murmuration in full swing.

Time stood still as I tried to capture in photographic form their beautiful shapes, my fingers racing over my cameras dials as I went from darkness to light and back again in a matter of seconds.  By the end we were frozen, stood in the pitch black and watching the last groups fling themselves at the pier as they found their places to roost for the night.  It was the most magical evening I have ever spent in my life, I am so glad we saw it.murmurations 4murmurations 2murmurations 8murmurations 1murmurations 7murmurations 5murmurations 6murmurations 9murmurations 10



Easter Sunday

I’d like to say that time with my family is always fairy dust and unicorns but it simply isn’t.  I love my boys with a passion but one of them can be a little tricky to handle. His independence is to be admired, it has got him through some tough times, but if he doesn’t want to do something he won’t, it is as simple as that and smiling for photographs is often a no go. There is one spectacular event that always plays in my mind, my twin sisters wedding, unbeknown to me my small boy pulled faces all the way through the photographs.  Not just the odd twisted smile, they were proper gargoyles hanging off church buildings styled grotesqueness. I blame the photographer for not telling me, but perhaps the photographer was wiser than we thought, I now know just how difficult handling small groups can be.

I managed to capture a few moments that capture the essence of the day, but reader let me tell you this, it was tough. Easter Sunday 1portrait for facebook
Easter Sunday 3 Easter Sunday 4

Sunny Brighton.

As I sit here writing this on the dreariest of Easter weekends, wind howling around the house, trees dancing, sky the colour of battleship grey, this day out seems a long time ago.  But it was only last Tuesday when we had that lovely settled high pressure giving us all a glimpse of the summer to come. Hubby and I had intended to go to the Royal Pavilion to see what we could see, but as we walked out of the railway station we instantly changed our minds and headed for the beach.  The day was simply too good to spend indoors and we headed down the street stripping off woollies of hats and scarfs as we walked.  We spent the day gently, wandering, chatting, sitting and gazing out to sea, we ate hot crispy salty chips that were perfection and marvelled at our good fortune to pick such a lovely day for our adventure to Brighton.

Such a lovely blue day, enjoy. Brighton 1 Brighton 2 Brighton 3 Brighton 6 Brighton 4 Brighton 7 Brighton 12 Brighton 8 Brighton 9 Brighton 10 Brighton 11 Brighton 13 Brighton 14 Brighton 15 Brighton 16 Brighton 17

The London Eye.

Considering how often the London Eye sneaks into my photography,London eye 1

you would think that I would have been on it by now,London eye 2

But I simply haven’t.  Hubby has and son no.1 has but I haven’t got around to it. London eye 3

I’ve been known to moan about it quiet often. It is three years now, I’ve been moaning for a long time. London eye 4

But I am incredibly tight and to me the cost is prohibitive, mainly because I would like my hubby to go with me and then, well, there is a lot you can do with that sort of money.  I know you can book a head which makes it slightly cheaper, but I never do. And then there are the queues, so very, very long. London eye 5

This spring I am going, I have promised myself, definitely, most definitely, if only to stop myself from moaning and moaning, and then looking at the long long lines of hot and dusty people. Come the day its fast track all the way.

Wannabe Gastronomy – chicken, babycham and mushroom fricassee with bubble and squeak gnocchi (sometimes roasted!)

I do love producing meals from left overs, its one of my favourite activities I think. To look at a cold chicken and ponder the many possibilities of what can be produced from the already plundered carcass can only give pleasure to the home cook.  Over Christmas I noticed that Babycham had come back on the market – or maybe it never went away – and it wasn’t bad for the odd glass of bubbles.  Having a bottle left an idea took shape.

Chicken and Babycham._

Using the chestnut mushrooms from our veg box, I shredded the chicken, fried the onions and garlic and mushrooms, added the chicken and then whisked two tablespoons of flour into the Babycham  threw that in closely followed by some water and some milk until I had the right consistency, then added salt and pepper.  It was absolutely delicious… I will be doing this again and again, it was that good. Chicken and Babycham. 1

Next I had some bubble and squeak that I had made from the carrot, spring greens and potatoes of the previous veg box.  Mixed in about 3 oz of flour and a couple of eggs  and this time about 3 oz of strong cheddar, because that is what I had, it could have been Parmesan.  Chicken and Babycham. 2

And then made gnocchi.  Chicken and Babycham. 3

Some we placed in boiling water, simmering very gently and let rise to the surface and then cook for a few minutes until all the flour was cooked and they were lovely little dumplings with our chicken and mushroom. Chicken and Babycham. 4

And some I roasted off, I sprayed them with a fine mist of olive oil and popped into a moderate oven. Chicken and Babycham. 5

And they were brilliant the next day after a hard day wandering around London, cheesy  and crunchy, just yummy,  with a soft centre on a bed of the chicken, mushroom and Babycham fricassee.

Wannabe Gastronomy indeed.

Palace of Westminster after sunset.

I wanted to take some photographs of the the Palace of Westminster at sunset having noticed that the sun sets directly behind the Palace and so studied the Met Office to see when sun set occurs.  Thinking that was actually the time of darkness, we got there early to catch the sunset and set up my tripod and waited and waited and waited and 6.10 p.m. came and went and it still wasn’t anywhere near darkness.   Lesson learned darkness occurs half an hour after sunset, well in this country at least.  By the time we had finished and  had taken some photographs in the dark as well, we were properly frozen.  But it was worth it. Palace of Westminster._

Bracketing and HDR

During my workshop with my Meetup group last week we learned more about bracketing, which I later through many trials and tribulations in photoshop turned into high dynamic range – photoshop not being a strong point of mine. I think I have finally captured some photographs of which I am very proud, if I can say that without sounding too pompous.

Just to give you a reality attack here, it took one hour and fifty minutes from the time of leaving the house to get to our desired meet up point.. a two and a half hour shoot in the freeeezing cold, it was cold at 6.00 p.m., pretty cold at 7.30 p.m. and positively glacial at 8.30 p.m., standing and not walking is going to freeze you more than you thought possible.

Between you and me we had layered up, I was wearing four of my own layers and hubby was wearing three of his and one of mine !!! (it was just a tshirt) I am so glad I forced him into doing that, it really helped to keep the cold at bay.

And after the shoot, our eyes alighted on the nearest French bistro and a good steak and a bottle of red was just the ticket with which to warm up with.  Much laughter ensued and eventually we got home well past midnight – the things I do for my art!, a sum total of eight hours out the house for a couple of snaps, well it beats golf!!! Hays Galleria 1st photo hdr Shard Shard 3 Shard 2