You don’t need a fancy camera – photo quiz!

Hopefully this is proof that you don’t need a fancy camera to take great photos – I get fed up hearing of this!! Especially all of you that have I-phones!

As promised, I’m going to expand on the photographs of my last post and share with you some of my favourite images of the evening walking around Forvie NNR. I did take photos with both my phone and my camera. I still am impressed by the quality of the HDR mode of my Samsung S5 neo. See if you can guess which ones are which. Answers at the bottom….

 

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Old derelict green railway cart
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Evening sunset over the dunes

One of these following two is my £300 phone, the other, my £900 camera. Do I feel a little cheated?!

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Looking south over Forvie towards Aberdeen – 1

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1 or 2….1 or 2…?! Which one do you prefer?

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The old buried church

This was my favourite photo of the walk – but what did I take it on?

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Looking south over Forvie towards Aberdeen – 3
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Sunset over the dunes
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An old fence at the beach
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Evening through the marram grass

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Please leave your thoughts in the comments and share with your friends to prove a point 😉

Annette

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Reveal the answers:

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Days 5,6 and 7: 50 miles in!

Sands of Forvie

Walking and/or running 50 miles in 7 days isn’t too bad! I must say that my legs are feeling it a little though.

Days 5 and 6 of my John O’ Groats to Lands End Challenge went pretty well. A few miles walking round at work and a 6 mile run from the nearest local town home each day helped bring in a few miles. Cue sunset number one…

Ythan estuary sunset
Ythan estuary sunset

Day 7 took me on a beautiful evening through Forvie NNR this time with camera in hand. I’m just going to show a few photos here to give you an idea. I’ll write a longer post with more images at a later date, but this will whet your appetite hopefully! The advantages of getting outside are now becoming evident to me….

Looking south towards Aberdeen
Looking south towards Aberdeen
Sunset over the sand dunes
Sunset over the sand dunes

These photos on this page were actually all taken with my phone. I never cease to be amazed by the quality of photographs that phones can churn out nowadays. Despite the fact that I had my big camera on me, most photos I took were in HDR mode on my phone.

It’ll be interesting to compare them to those taken in RAW on my camera, especially the ones looking down the coast.

Hopefully you had some nice walks outside too over the last few days!

Annette

 

Day 4: A Day of Discovery

After yesterday’s very wet rather rushed walk, I decided to venture back again along the Forvie NNR coastal path. Initially I was going to loop back to the visitor centre but I decided instead to go further along to Hackley Bay.

I remember seeing it years ago as a student and wanting to go back to see it again. It’s a small sandy cove surrounded by marram covered cliffs. The only way to access it is to walk through the reserve. Although I was eager to see it again, I didn’t realise how much in awe I would be once I reached the damp sands.

The thick fog provided an eerie backdrop as it was just I and some early fulmars on the beach. That sense of isolation, dramatic edging and wide reaching sand has put it on my top 5 if not possibly top 2 beaches to visit (so far) in the UK.

I didn’t spend long as clothing was not something I had on in abundance, but I will be back with a book and a blanket and a snack or two. I also didn’t have any picture taking device with me so alas, sorry no photos. Yesterday’s photo will therefore have to suffice.

Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day
Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day

It’s one of those iconic type of beaches you imagine from the movies with people walking hand in hand or horses galloping through the surf….The picture above doesn’t do it justice at all (but it was pouring rain) therefore a camera will also be on my list for next time!

If you’re in the area, pop by for a visit – you will not be disappointed as its truly idyllic.

Today’s walk-run put another 10k on the clock for my John O’ Groats to Lands End Challenge.

Day 3 on the Virtual Challenge

A stylised photo looking out to see at Forvie NNR. Looks like it could be a lovely summers day!

I’m certainly racking up a few miles more than normal the last few days. Today’s big adventure took the form of starting out on a wet, but nice walk through Forvie NNR which ended up with me running in full waterproofs (two jackets), jeans and winter boots the last two miles in order to vaguely make a hair-taming appointment. Cue 10km added to my virtual challenge total. And cue ending up extremely embarrassed, sweaty, soaked through and red-faced whilst apologising profusely for being (at least) 10 minutes late for a 9am appointment.

Still the lady at the Ythan Waves hair salon was wonderfully lovely and cut my hair really nicely therefore I would not hesitate in recommending this hairdresser! If you can trust a review from someone who gets a haircut maximum once a year… The place was clearly well visited by the locals which is always a good sign.

I plan on going back to do this walk again, perhaps in a loop when the weather is nicer and when I don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time. Here’s a soggy pic of Hackley Bay. The scenery is fantastic, especially when you see the sandy beach stretching out in the distance. Forvie NNR is definitely somewhere you want to be in the summer evenings when the sun is low glancing over the dunes and there is a gentle breeze. Aah bliss.

Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day
Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day

 

My total today is just under 12km! Making progress on this one! Would love to hear about any nice walks you’ve been on today.

Annette

 

Day 2: John O’Groats to Lands End

The Ythan at Newburgh

I’m making some progress on this one! Despite having a fairly sedentary day in the office doing data analysis I still managed to make up 6.9 miles today.

We had a lovely wee walk at Newburgh, down onto the estuary when there are hundreds of seals – it’s well worth seeing if you are in the area. Apparently in the summer when there are thousands and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction the smell in Newburgh is pretty overpowering!

The estuary of the Ythan river
The estuary of the Ythan river – all those ‘rocks’ on the other side of the river are seals!

There was also a small float (?) of eiders and some shore waders of which I weren’t sure what they were! Note to self – improve bird identification!

Lots of seals with those little grey wading birds in the foreground....
Lots of seals with those little grey wading birds in the foreground….

Once we got home, I dusted off the running gear and went out for what I’m going to call a run-walk up the coast a little. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite mastered the headtorch (i.e. I wasn’t holding the button down for long enough :/ ) so proceeded to walk back in the almost dark. It was light enough for walking but not enough for anything faster.

Therefore this was a successful second day, bringing my total up to …. 12.2 miles! Not too shabby!

 

Annette

Another Vegan Brownie Recipe Tested

food.com vegan brownies

Doesn’t time fly? I have realised that since the beginning of August I have posted only six times – oops! Sorry readers. I have lots of photos ready but just haven’t done any writing. Well now that I am on holiday for two weeks I have less of an excuse not to write.

I did make a brownie recipe a couple of weeks ago and I forgot to add one of the ingredients therefore I didn’t think it would be fair to compare it. However I am very excited as it may have led to the most amazing vegan cookie recipe ever! Watch this space!

This ‘Rich, Fudgy, Vegan Brownies’ recipe comes ‘pollen’ from food.com. It tempted me because it said it was going to be fudgy and it had lots of coffee in it (do like a bit of coffee in brownies).

Vegan brownie mixture
Vegan brownie mixture

However, sorry to say, I was a little disappointed. They just didn’t have the depth of flavour required. They turned out very well, with a really good cakey texture, with a bit of fudgy-ness but they were a bit bland I found. I definitely need to consider coffee in my perfect recipe as an added flavour profile, but now I’m convinced more than ever that the recipe needs to have real chocolate and not just cocoa powder. I’m also tempted (Christmas list hint) to get some really good quality cocoa powder and investigate the impact that that has on the flavour.

Vegan chocolate brownie after cooking
Vegan chocolate brownie after cooking

I’m eager now to find something awesome that will blow my socks off! I’m thinking I might make something with some more complex ingredients…

Vegan brownies from pollen @ food.com
Vegan brownies from pollen @ food.com

Here’s my verdict for these:

So the verdict:

  1. Cakiness: 10
  2. Gooiness: 6
  3. Crispy top: 3
  4. Chocolateyness: 5
  5. Sweetness: 7.5
  6. Ease of making: 8
  7. Ingredient complexity: 9
  8. Overall taste: 6

And some others you should try:

Interested in the others I’ve made so far for comparison? Click on these links!

 

And finally it was our four year anniversary this week, so we went for a walk around Balmedie and the sand dunes. It was a very foggy day.

Balmedie sand dunes, Aberdeenshire
Balmedie sand dunes – could be in the Sahara desert, it was so misty

 

 

Ta ta for now,

Annette

Whirlwind Week

Suri meeting her new neighbours

I haven’t written a blog post in over four weeks (thank goodness for scheduled posts) or posted in three! It’s been a pretty crazy few weeks:

  1. I went to Ethiopia – this was a trip I will never forget (if largely for number 2).
  2. I picked up some kind of Ethiopian super vomiting-diarrhoea virus (my stomach is not yet back to completely normal after several weeks…)
  3. And best of all – I have moved house to a beautiful cottage in the country! Currently with no internet access or phone signal, hence the silence!

I’ll cover each of these separately over the coming weeks but here’s some photos to whet your appetite.

Hawassa - Ethiopia
Hawassa – Ethiopia

 

View from Old Slains Castle
View from the new hoose

Expect some Ethiopian inspired recipes over the coming months (once my body actually becomes interested in food again…).Also with an awesome new kitchen hopefully there will be some as awesome bakes!

Sheep - the new neighbours
The new neighbours

Also today I’m in Bognor Regis also so expect some photos from here including a wee bit on my first Airbnb experience!

Keep tuned!

Annette

 

 

 

 

 

7 More Ways to Change How You Take Photos: Part 3

Astrantia peering over a log

With Part 1 and Part 2 out the way, this is my final post on how to change the way you think about taking photos. Hopefully through the three posts you will be inspired to go and take photos. I’d love to see what you have taken – feel free to leave links to your photos below in the comments section.

Nineteen: Use your fellow photographers as models

Although photographers don’t always make the best models, feel free to grab someone you go out photographing with and get them to pose for you.

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Using models for photography

Twenty: Look for complementary shapes

I don’t think this is a great photo but I love how this Allium head reflects the clipped ball Buxus in the background.

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Allium, Buxus and Araucaria

Twenty-One: Be empowered by archways

Archways are so photogenic.

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Archways can add a frame to a photo

Twenty-Two: Look for repeating patterns

Repeating patterns can look great in a photo often in black and white.

The pattern of these leaves is repeating but adds a nice balance to the photo
The pattern of these leaves is repeating but adds a nice balance to the photo

Twenty-Three: Shoot flowers

If it’s a grey day, then it’s perfect for photographing flowers. Don’t worry if you can’t get close, photograph them in their surroundings.

Honeysuckle - Lonicera
Honeysuckle – Lonicera

Twenty-Four: Give an idea of environment or context

Find something interesting in the foreground and allow the background to fade out into the distance.

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Astrantia on the river edge

Twenty-Five: Take a ‘frothy’ image

I’m in love with this style of image at the moment. The style where nothing in particular is in focus, but the frame is filled with lots of a similar thing. Great for background images with a blurring filter.

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Frothy Cow Parsley

That’s it for just now. I’m sure I will share some more images and ideas in the future. This is where we visited. Why not go down to your local park with a few interested friends or colleagues and have a go?

Annette X

 

 

What’s Looking Hot in Gardens in July (UK)?

Digitalis purpurea - the common foxglove

Gorgeous things in full flower at the moment (mid July) in Scotland, UK (or is it….)?

 

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Digitalis ferruginia
Thalictrum flavum - Yellow Meadow Rue
Thalictrum flavum – Yellow Meadow Rue
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Himalayan lily – Cardiocrinum giganteum
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Dactylorhiza sp.
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Lupins of varying shades
Aconitum napellus - Monkshood
Aconitum napellus – Monkshood
Iris sibirica - Siberian Flag Iris
Iris sibirica – Siberian Flag Iris
Lavendula - Lavender
Lavendula – Lavender
Eryngium alpinum - Sea Holly
Eryngium alpinum – Sea Holly
Lychnis coronaria - Rose Campion
Lychnis coronaria – Rose Campion in white and pink
Linaria purpurea (pink version) - absolutely loved by bees
Linaria purpurea (pink version) – absolutely loved by bees

 

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens'
Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’ – Purple-leaved sage

There are of course many more things but these will at least inspire you.

Annette x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seaton Park, Aberdeen – As Beautiful as Ever

Grass heads in front of a rose

Despite there being lots of works on at the moment to improve the park, which at first glance may seem messy and destructive, Seaton Park, in my opinion, is looking as beautiful as ever. All thanks, of course to the hard work and patience of the gardeners, the local council and The Friends of Seaton Park. I hope these photos do it some justice.

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Seaton Park by the River Don
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Umbels beside the river
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View up the River Don from Seaton Park towards Donside Village
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Slate river effect
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Flowering Cornus (Dogwood)
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White-edged Hosta is reflected in these airy white flowers (Crambe?)
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Lady’s Mantle and this Nepeta work well together
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Lady’s Mantle glowing
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Grass flowerheads
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The formal walkway in Seaton Park
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People enjoying Seaton Park
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Views towards St Machar Cathedral from Seaton park
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The hanging basket display at Seaton Park
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Vibrant red Begonia
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Clipped box line the path to the fountain
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Memorial for the fountain
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Festuca and this old rope work well together
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The many colours of Carex
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Rope fence detail
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Driftwood and grass planting towards Hillhead
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Catching the light
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Glowing umbellifer
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Glowing fern

 

9 More Ways to Change how you Photograph: Part 2

Iris with Azalea in the background

On saturday I mentioned my first 9 tips on how to change the way you take photographs. Here are my next 9 ideas.

Ten: Rule of Thirds

If you drew lines in your photo to divide it into thirds, the places where these lines intersect are natural aesthetic positions for an object to be. Aim to place the object of interest where these grid lines intersect. You can often add gridlines to your camera viewfinder or screen.

Rule of thirds
This tip of this hook falls roughly in the intersection of the furthest right and lower ‘imaginary’ gridlines

Eleven: Break the Rule of Thirds

Place your object right in the centre of your photo and see if it works.

Breaking the rule of thirds
Breaking the rule of thirds – place your focal point right in the centre of the screen. This photo follows ‘fifths’ more!

Twelve: Go Square

The square format is great. It’s the format of choice for Instagram and is great for really focusing in on a subject. You’ll see many of my photos here have been cropped to the square format.

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Square photograph format works well for detail shots like this derelict shipping container

Thirteen: Look for Something Which Stands Out in a Scene

Find something that doesn’t fit into a photograph and enhance it.

This yellow sign on the side of this vehicle hut doesn't really blend in with the scene
This yellow sign on the side of this vehicle hut doesn’t really blend in with the scene

 

Fourteen: Try Simplistic and Minimal Subject Matter

Completely blur out your background using a large aperture to keep your photo focused on one thing.

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The only thing here that is in focus is this cow parsley head. It would make a great card.

Fifteen: Quirky Signs

Capture a candid of something which is out of place that might be seen as fun in years to come.

Find run things in a scene that are out of place.
Find fun things in a scene that are out of place.

Sixteen: Try Abstract

Look for unusual detail. Think of something that would fit more into a modern art museum that a photograph you would show your mum.

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Abstract photo of bamboo against a neutral grey background

Seventeen: Look for Interesting Shapes and Positioning

Think about how objects are connected in a scene. Are things in order or is one thing out of place?

These floral heads all look identical and fill up most of the frame of this photograph
These floral heads all look identical and fill up most of the frame of this photograph. They are all equidistant and connected by the starburst style petioles.

Eighteen: Look for complementing colour and texture

Find harmonious colours and textures and try to photograph why they look good together.

I loved how the texture, shapes and colours complemented each other in this photo.
I loved how the texture, shapes and colours complemented each other in this photo.

That’s the last one for today. Check back Wednesday for the last installment!

Annette

 

9 Ways to Help Change How You Photograph: Part 1

White-edged leaf hosta in black and white

As I mentioned previously some friends and I recently went on an evening after work taking photos. I thought I would share with you some of my top tips when it comes to taking photographs and how I consider different aspects of a scene. This will be Part 1 of 3, so I hope that you will also join me for the next parts on Monday and Wednesday.

The idea is, if you’re just getting into photography to suggest some things to think about to change how you take photos and for those more seasoned experts, maybe some inspiration. In my opinion none of these images are going to win any competitions but they were all taken within a couple of hours and they demonstrate perfectly how photographers can see things differently.

One: Frame the photo with something

Leaves, a window, a building, a fence – it provides focus.

Seaton Park - The formal garden with view framed by leaves
Seaton Park – The formal garden with view framed by leaves.

Two: Zoom in – try and find things in the distance.

Zooming in changes the perspective and makes things seem closer together than they are.

The formal walkway showing plants - zoomed in view
The formal walkway showing plants – zoomed in view.

Three: Get down low

Look at what’s happening under your feet. A low perspective emphasizes size and scale differences.

Daisies and buttercups low view
Daisies and buttercups low view.

Four: Aim up high

Point your camera upwards or get a higher vantage point. It can give the impression of things towering above you.

Dappled sunlight in the canopy of a beach tree
Dappled sunlight in the canopy of a beach tree – looking upwards.

Five: Be quick to act to changes in light

Lighting is around 90% of a photo in my opinion so be quick to act when the light changes. Have locations in mind that you would like to return to when the light is better. Generally evenings and mornings are best but it depends what you want to photograph – cloudy days are better for flowers.

Cocksfoot grass
This Cocksfoot grass would have been boring had the evening sun not come out and back lit the stems.

Six: Look for unusual colour combinations

Sometimes the light or a different view can change the colours of things completely. Find a colour combo you like and try different angles to highlight them each in different ways.

Bronze-leaved sycamore
This dark-leaved sycamore at first looks bronze but the light shining through leaves made them look glorious yellow.

Seven: Go black and white

Black and white looks best where there is good contrast across the image. Red and green will look the same shade of grey hence why colour blind people can’t tell the difference.

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Black and white version of the bronze-leaved sycamore.

Eight: Use lead-in lines

Lead-in lines do just that – they lead your eyes into the frame of the photograph and leave to wondering what lies beyond them.

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Lead-in lines formed by the edges of the path. Also considers point ‘Three.’

Nine: Try an easy ‘fake’ infra-red filter effect 

If you are lucky enough to have photo-editing software, try converting your photo to black and white and lightening only the green tones in your image. What you get is a really easy way to make a ‘fake’ infra red effect which is where all the plant foliage goes white.

Easy fake infra red effect using photoshop
Easy fake infra red effect using photoshop

Want more ideas? Check back tomorrow!

Annette X

Photo Club Walkabout

We have a group of us at work who are all keen on photography. We went on a walkabout last night around the local park. I haven’t had a chance to go through all the photos properly yet but here are a few.

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Bronze-leaved Sycamore: I loved how the light caught these leaves
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Old rusty shipping container with paint peeling off: I do like dereliction photography
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Bamboo planted to try and hide this shipping container
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Having fun doing a quick modelling shoot!
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Archways can be so photogenic! Although this looks natural, it was completely posed.

Brexit and Scotch Eggxit?

I think a lot of the readers of this blog are from the great US of A so I thought it may interest you to hear some thoughts of a Scottish person after the outcome of Brexit early this morning. I will share with you some of the thoughts, fears and observations of my day. I’m not a great talker of politics as there’s too many arguments and confrontations for my liking, but this goes beyond that.

To be honest my day started like any other aside from the fact we are on holiday at the moment. We are trying to do up the house to sell (more on this over the coming months!). I was aware that the UK referendum was the previous day but never did I really expect to wake up and start a day which would change the course of history as we expected it. I guess we always get used to the status quo. The previous Scottish Independence Referendum confirmed that Scotland were happy to remain as part of the UK – “Better Together” as they said. I’m not particularly against leaving, but I am against dividing people and nations. I must admit I did vote to leave the UK but I was happy with either outcome. I sat on the fence, but I had to vote one way or the other. Change can be a good thing as well as bad. We always have to keep our eyes open and adapt.

When my OH first showed me the result my first question was: “Is that the final number?”

“Yes,” he replied “but it’s not a legally binding vote this one.”

“Aaah, hmm,” I said “that’s kinda close, that’ll never go through then. That’s too close surely.”

As I then saw the map which showed that every single county in Scotland had voted to remain, this was closely followed by: “Gee, look at Scotland! That’s not going to go down well. Maybe David Cameron will decide to remain and Scotland will be like ‘yey,’ we like the UK!” I did feel a moment of pride here as, even if the UK hasn’t, Scotland I feel has become more united since the Independence referendum. I’m generally a Green supporter but I have to admire Nicola Sturgeon’s ability to lead the country together. On a side note I’m also impressed with how many women there are at the head of Scottish politics.

That aside, as the day wore on it was clear that the days of the United Kingdon as we know it are limited. David Cameron announced his stepping down ( a little ‘abandoning ship’ I thought) and Nicola Sturgeon said that a new independence referendum was on the table.We had the news on for a while but it’s all speculative at the moment and pretty repetitive. They were going into detail about all the parts of the UK – how Northern Ireland, London and Scotland had all voted to remain. The saddest part for me is not whether we remain or not, but that it has divided everyone. It damages the EU and it threatens the United Kingdom.

What is interesting, is that according to social media at least, 99% of people my OH and I know (i.e. our friends and work colleagues) voted to remain.

Who knows, it could be good? If it builds us up as a nation together or apart, within the EU or out, I will be happy. If we support each other through the process and seek to build our strengths rather than undermine each other’s weaknesses then it may be OK.

Then to be honest, my day ended like any other. Only time will tell what’s going to happen. All I know is that change is afoot and it’s a little worrying for me and many others.

How do you feel about the outcome.

Annette X

PS Hope you like the title – courtesy of the OH: #scotcheggxit – make it viral!

 

 

Visit: Glen Tanar NNR

Vaccinium myrtillus and Calluna vulgaris undergrowth (Heather and Blaeberries)

I think that everyone has a list of favourite places to go or be. Glen Tanar NNR, near Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, is one of those places which is in my Top 10. I can easily spend a good few hours wandering up and down paths or a good day venturing further up the valley.

It’s a fantastic place to photograph especially in the evening when the mist starts rising through the trees. It was a glorious sunny day on Thursday – one of the best this year – when I had a wonder around. The harsh contrast between highlights and shadows makes it difficult to take pictures in such sunny conditions but I certainly enjoyed the walk and have a few images to share with you.

It’s a few pounds for the car park and there is a small visitor centre with toilets. There are well signposted walks of a mile or too or if you fancy there are also longer walks. For example if you fancy a munro, there is always Mount Keen, although be prepared for a 7 mile walk before you even start ascending it.

Church (1)
Chapel of St Lesmo
Church (3)
Glen Tanar green – all the houses are painted in this colour of green.
Church (4)
The bell on St Lesmo’s chapel
Undergrowth (1)
Sun dappled undergrowth
Tree stumps (6)
Views of Glen Tanar
Tree stumps (5)
Pignut and wood
Cows (1)
Cows grazing in the field.
Cows (2)
Close up of a young bullock.
Path (1)
Path alongside a field – this route follows the river upstream.
Loch (1)
Loch with boat house and private fishing – return in autumn for some amazing colour here.
Loch (2)
Ethereal loch at any time of the day.
Reeds (2)
Reeds with dragonfly zooming by.
Rhododendron
Rhododendron growing next to the loch.
Foxglove (2)
Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea
Purple Thistle and Bee
Thistle – Cirsium
Dragonfly lake
Smaller loch with loads of dragonflies and damselflies
Path (2)
Path dappled with sunlight
Sign post
Plenty of signposts are around
Broom (2)
Broom is everywhere and flowers in June
Tree stumps (1)
An unsusual natural tree sculpture
Path (3)
The view down Glen Tanar
Tree stumps (2)
Sunlight through the Scots Pine
Tree stumps (3)
Blaeberry and Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris
Undergrowth (2)
Galium saxatile
Undergrowth (3)
Galium saxatile closeup image
Glider
A glider from the Deeside Gliding Club

I’ll share some autumn pictures with you at some point. Do you have some favourite places you like to visit as much as you can?

Annette.

Why do you Blog? Blogerative.

In the last few months I have written more than I ever have in my life. I’m writing a Master’s thesis, I’m writing a book and I’m writing a blog. I’ve learnt to express all aspects of my mind, my dandelion mind, in a way that makes me feel better about myself and the people around me.

So why do you blog? Why do we become obsessed by getting those little ‘likes’ everywhere? Or a comment – those little gold nuggets which make us feel a little like we’ve won the lottery. Are we so craving approval by other people? Does that little like button somehow give us a sense that we are normal?  

On the internet we can almost be anyone we want to be. We can give the impression of a perfect life. Like the fact that every meal is a delicious work of art, that we are fit and healthy and that we always look great.

We want people to think that is how we live our lives. 

We all respond strongly to imagery, colour and beauty. There are a hundred ways to photograph and construct your buddha bowl but you must now do it in a way that is a lot more than throwing a few things together to make a lunch. There must be art and beauty and colour and pattern in the image. We find the best background and take multiple images until, yes, that’s the one. It makes us feel better when we have that beautiful image to share with the world.

And so we construct some text to accompany the image. It could be something we want to inspire others with, something to make us feel better by ourselves, it could be a confession or a story. It expresses how we feel we want to be seen at that time. It follows our mood. Then there are the keywords, tags, hashtags, anything we find to add to share our wonderful moment with the world.

That’s it now, that’s what we want to say. That’s what we want to say to the world. That’s what we want people to listen to us say. People will definitely be interested in what I, the writer, must share to the world.

And then nothing. Then maybe a few likes. Did they read it? Did they actually read it and take it onboard? How do they feel? Do they agree? Have we changed their life? Was it useful? 

Or did we just waste 30 minutes of our time talking, as usual, to ourselves, in our mind? Except this time anyone can now read our thoughts.

Why do you blog?

 

New Shoes and a New PB!

I was very excited to buy a new pair of trail running shoes last week. Fed up of the garish colours offered by many I went for a much more sensible black pair – Asics Gel-Sonoma 2. My reasoning for the purchase is that I ‘need’ a pair of trail shoes for the Lakeland 50 at the end of July.

ASICS Gel-Sonoma 2 Women's Trail Running Shoes - SS16

They cost £40 after a sneaky wee 15% discount on www.sportsshoes.com. I currently have a pair of road Asics Gel-105 shoes and I have always found them very comfy, therefore decided to go for another pair. I did go half a size smaller than previously though and as a result these are a little tighter but still fit well. To be honest I probably should have stuck to a size 6.

Now for a bit of shoe porn…heh heh.

 

Anyways I decided to take them out on a test run at the Aberdeen Beach Park Run. Not exactly trail but good for a wee trial jaunt and not too far from home if things go pear-shaped! For this inaugural occasion I even made an effort to co-ordinate…me co-ordinate?!

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Not too bad for co-ordination?

A lot of my running tops are throw outs from the OH so I also may have snuck in a new top in my SportShoes order – a PureLime seamless top. Their stuff seems really nice and I may find one or two other items in future magically dropping into my shopping basket! To be honest the top was a little warm for the weather on saturday but I never felt overly sweaty in it as it seems to be able to cool you quite well – it could be the magic stripes up the side. I did find it rode up so it needs to be tucked in. This is fine if you have a super sleek body but I do like something to cover up the squidgy bits!

They do say not to try out new kit during a race (not that Park Run is particularly a race) but I was pretty surprised to get a new 5K PB time of 27:08. This vegan-ish diet might be doing something? I felt pretty good throughout if a little warm. I did slow a little in the 3rd quarter but hey that’s just something to work on for next time isn’t it?

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Has to be done right? Tried to get the shoes in there…

So next time I’ll be looking for sub-27 minutes….follow my blog to find out if I make it next time (have to plug it).

As for the verdict on the shoes, they were pretty comfy. They resulted in a little bit of wee toe damage (photo by request :P) but that is probably expected in new shoes. Hopefully I will go out for a longer trail run in them next time and baptize them in mud.

BTW I’d highly recommend Park Run – it’s free and they are all over the country (UK). There’s a handful in the US but do support them if you can as they are great. They have a great community associated with them. All speeds turn up from fastest to slowest from fittest to never ran/jogged before. There will always be a great cheer for the last person home 🙂

Annette X

6 Reasons to Run and G.O.T

The formal gardens of Seaton Park

G.O.T.: Get Out There. As the infamous Nike slogan says – Just Do It.

It has taken me a while to get into running and even now it hasn’t yet become habit. Now looking back I suspect that was because in the past I had no deep down reason to run or do exercise or to G.O.T.

Just recently I have started to try and run for a reason. What I mean by this is that running we will generally do to keep fit – and that is a great reason, but alone it’s not enough for me. Each run has to have another reason.  It’s almost like it has to serve more than one purpose. I need a goal or an aim for each and every time I go out. It needs to be fresh in my mind and it has to be motivating. It’s almost as if I need my mental self to agree with my physical self.

Some of the reasons I have used to G.O.T. could be:

  • to explore a new place or take a new path – there are so many little paths which we would never go down.
  • to listen to music which I enjoy and others may not – then no-one else has to hear it. Cheesy pop tunes, why not?
  • to take photographs along a route – often we go out in the evenings or early mornings when the lighting is best. Grab your phone camera and don’t feel bad about stopping. Just enjoy it. Explore new places. Share.
  • to focus on something in particular such as a book chapter or blog post – generally my mind goes blank when I run but sometimes I can concentrate on one thing. Sometimes that mind zen time is what you want. It’s just you against the world.
  • to listen to the waves – get muddy, run in the sea. Run where you want. A path is just where everyone else goes, but you can make your own
  • to get out into the countryside – you can see more and get further, just don’t forget to enjoy it. Walk if you want. Breathe. Feel.

 

 

Now they may sound like mundane reasons but my point is that each run has a focus. It could be a fitness focus like ‘I’m going to get a PB up that hill” or “I’m going to really push myself today.” Or it could be, like for me today, wanting to take photos of the local park, Seaton Park, to capture the fresh vibrant new spring growth.

In the past I would have felt’guilty’ for stopping so often but actually I’m out there, running, and more importantly enjoying it while I was doing so. It feels productive both physically and mentally. Can’t get over that ‘guilty’ feeling? Use it as a sprint session between locations.

 

 

Find things you didn’t know were there. Know that just by being out there you are achieving something – after all the hardest part is taking the decision to get off the sofa, to put on your shoes, to go out into the cold and to G.O.T in the first place. Find out what it takes to do this, then grab it by the horns and knee it in the balls as you fly over that hurdle.

 

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Wallace Tower, Tillydrone
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New Box balls in the Formal Garden

 

Whatever your reason, enjoy Getting Out There.

Annette X

Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10K – Race Report

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I’ve always wanted to run the Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k. Well, when I say always what I actually mean is for a good few years since I knew it existed. However, I have always been away at the Cateran Trail 55 Ultra Race on race support duties. This year I decided to enter. On my fitness spurt back in December and January, I thought this would be a great idea. Fast forward a few months on and how does two weeks of training sound? Yup.

I wasn’t worried about running the distance but I was thinking I should have put a few more months into the training. Still as things worked out, I just wanted to enjoy and feel the atmosphere – that was all I ever wanted to do. It was my first proper city race and what better place to run than at your local one.

The night before I must say, I was apprehensive. Why, I’m not really sure. Maybe it was the sense of potential personal disappointment, the fact that I was going on my own (not that I minded at all, it was just the sense of the unknown) or the fact that I might sleep in and miss it. I almost felt more apprehensive with this than I did the night before I had to give a presentation I hadn’t yet finished to 150 people….strange. However this morning I was absolutely fine.

My race pack arrived around the beginning of May. I always feel a little odd receiving a t-shirt before the event as sneaky people could wear it unearned. However I was determined to wear it, even if it didn’t quite fit in my ‘what I’m going to wear so that I’m not too hot or too cold plan’. Temperature wise I would probably have worn a long sleeve top and capri leggings so in modification I decided to wear this over a long sleeve top (it is quite thin) and shorts with some sports boxers which MikeR no longer wanted. That was until I discovered that both pairs of shorts and 3/4 leggings had just literally been put in the wash. Ooops. Oh well leggings it was!

My next dilemma was what to wear to get to the Beach Boulevard where it all kicked off. So I picked my oldest paint covered trousers and yet another couple of MikeR throw outs in an attempt to reduce their attraction for someone else while they sat in the changing tent. Luckily this worked and they were still sitting there when I returned.

Breakfast was my usual piece of bread with peanut butter or cereal and a bowl of fruit. Except that this time I had both! Wasn’t a day to be planning on changing things much. I took a piece of brownie with me to munch on before the start which I ended up not having. Breakfast did me well.

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At shortly after 8am with everything I needed on my person or not worth nicking I set out to walk the 2.2 miles to the start. This was a great warm up, just enough to get the blood moving around but not enough to be tired for the race. It worked for me in the same way my walk to the gym does every morning. Luckily the weather was dry and it was a very pleasant saunter along the beach front. It was great as it was deserted because the road was closed. There was hardly a soul to be seen.

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View out to sea

I arrived with about perfect time. People were milling about and there were loads of blue race t-shirts! I had to nip to the vegan cafe (I know, amazing right!), Bonobo, to get some change to put in the donations tub for the changing facility but at least now I had a delicious vegan chickpea, mulberry and something else brownie to look forwards to at the end. Extra clothes jettisoned, it was time for the warm up which was a quick 5 minutes of stretching exercises to get the heart going. After that we headed for the start pens. I decided to optimistically and confidently go for the 56-60 minute one. Was this the right choice…..? Read on and find out!

It was about 5 minutes after the start/gun time before our group got to cross the start line. It was really weird because within about 0.5km of the start there was almost complete silence save for the pitter-patter of trainers on tarmac. With it being a city race I was expecting lots of people cheering. I wasn’t disappointed from this, it just wasn’t what i expected. Overall the race went pretty well. A stitch almost made an appearance just before the 5km mark but it disappeared fairly quickly, possibly helped by the water stop at that point.

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Around about 5.5km

I did feel bad taking water bottles and having only three mouthfuls before discarding them to the side. However, having filled 100’s of cups with water and juice as quick as is physically possible before I know that this isn’t an option! Smaller bottles might have been less wasteful but standard ones are probably cheaper.

Anyway. It was pretty fun running down King Street along the road then round through the flats in Seaton. Or that could have been because it was only 2.5km from the end. There was a small but mean hill coming up to the finish just after Pittodrie Stadium.  Generally though it’s a pretty flat course. At the finish I put on the gas for a last minute burst. It was just as well I did because I finished in 59 mins 59 secs! What a close one that was. I was aiming for under an hour and that it what I got – by a hair! We got handed a medal, goodie bag, banana and bottle of water in the finishing chute. It was really well organised and as far as I’m concerned it went very smoothly.

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The walk back again was a great cool down though my legs were pretty tired by the time I got home – I realised I had done about 11 miles in total! I think it would be good training for a long distance race to do a walk, do a fast race and then walk again. Again it was blissfully quiet as the beach road was still closed. I could smell the gorse and hear the birds which was really wonderful. If you don’t do the race just go down for the peaceful walk. It makes such a change from all the cars and people there normally.

I was surprised at the range of food in the goodie bag. I wasn’t going to post a picture of it, but then Suri decided to make herself comfy so the picture is actually of her….really.

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Having just discovered that there is a pop up vegan cafe in Aberdeen, I checked out their Facebook page. Unfortunately they didn’t do as well as they had hoped in terms of selling food and were trying to sell off excess. It worked out well for me though – I got an awesome range of breakfast burritos, brownies, slices and muffins delivered to my door for a fraction of the price earlier in the day! And it all tastes sooo good.

If you get the chance pop along, they are open on Saturdays 11am-4pm at Aberdeen Wellbeing Centre, McCombie’s Court. I definitely plan on going there when I am in town next time. The food I’ve had so far is really great. Check them out on Facebook.

Did you run it this year? How did you get on?

Annette

 

 

Week 1 – Running on veg

So the first week of pretty much veganism and getting back into a fitness regime seems to have gone without a hitch. I have had no lack of energy and other than feeling a bit hungry at times, food, or cravings more specifically have not really been an issue. I even made my first vegan cake – Jamie Oliver’s brownies and I must say they are pretty awesome! It comes highly recommended from me. Did feel like I spent a lot of time in the kitchen though.

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Free running magazine

Looking back on it i would say it has actually been a pretty successful week. I picked up a copy of the free runABC (Scottish Running Guide) at the Sports Village this morning and I may use it to pick one or two races over the summer! It’s worth a read if you can get a copy as it has a list of most of the races in Scotland around the 10k mark. In it I also found out about RunningHeroes (sign up via this link and I might get a free t-shirt :P)  It’s big in France apparently and is making its way over to the UK. Basically you can link your Strava or Garmin account to it (amongst others) to earn points for the runs you do. You can then use these points to ‘buy’ discounts from sports retailers. There are also competitions as well which you can only enter, for example, if you have run 10 miles that week. There is also Bounts as well (use code “raffan49884” and we’ll both get 100 points :P) which is like Nectar points for just going out and doing sport! What’s to lose?

I guess they could be open to abuse but for the majority of us it can be an incentive to get out there! Only time will tell if it’s a major success but I’m going to give it a go for now.

I managed to keep a food diary all week. I find the process of writing it down helps with knowing how much you are actually eating. Plus here’s the exercise log:

Sunday 1st May: 5.5 mile run in minimalist shoes – great to work on your calves for a change. Took me over an hour but saw some new scenery around Scotstown Moor. Note to self: Mud = fun.

Monday 2nd May: 4.4 mile run along the beach. Burning calves after this one! Definitely a bit of walking at the end and maybe the middle…. Didn’t help that I wore Merrell Trail Gloves again….It was a glorious evening and I enjoyed being out.

Tuesday 3rd May: 3.6 mile Krunce Cosmics challenge series at Tyrebagger hill. This is my baseline run. It’s important to have something to gauge yourself by. Parkrun is also good for this. My time was 43 minutes for this first one – to be repeated again next month! It was hard. Even UltraMikeR said it was hard. So that means it is actually, hard. I was really concerned about being last but I wasn’t. Note to self: I need to get over this fear. Saw the inspirational CarolW there.

Thursday 5th May: 5.5 mile run along the beach promenade. It was a lovely evening but man did I feel tired! Didn’t stop my Strava properly so ended up including my walk to work and back the next day….oops. Note to self: Learn to use Strava properly.

Saturday 7th May: Trip to the gym. 30 mins on the spin bike, 5 min cool down on treadmill plus a couple of weights equipment.

Food: 9/10; Mind: 8/10; Body: 7/10

Success=1; Fail=0

Gardens dressed for Valentine’s Day

I set myself a challenge for my next photography outing – ‘Pink.’ I thought this was going to be a very challenging subject since most things are varying shades of brown and beige at this time of year. But once I got my eye in there were a whole lot of flowers which are out at this time of year along with a smattering of graffiti I found along the way.

 

So with Valentines Day approaching, I though that pink, the colour of love, would be a highly appropriate subject to talk about.

 

It’s definitely worth going out photographing with a limiting factor, be that forcing yourself to work with one lens, aiming for a subject or working towards a competition or within a time limit. It forces you to focus your mind and skills in order to make the best of your options.

 

If you look for it, pink really sticks out at this time of year but it can also be easily overlooked. There are subtle hints of pink everywhere..

 

I really enjoyed my outing this morning in the spring sunshine. I encourage you to get out and have a look too. Set yourself a challenge and see what you can find – you may need to get imaginative!

 

Annette X

Spectra – a night of light

Prepare yourself for wonder with a four night spectacular of art and light installations across Aberdeen city. Marischal College, St Nicholas Kirk, Belmont Street and Union Terrace gardens have all been transformed by fascinating and eerie experiences from rather strange abstract artwork to rainbow displays on the side of buildings.

 

A spectacular display of images was projected onto the side of Mitchell Hall at Marischal College. This was combined with classical music and made for a very dramatic presentation.

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Rainbow windows

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Rainbow on Marischal College
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School children drew these – I loved the pikachu!

 

There was a very interesting collection of different displays. Some showed drawings created by local school children while others used smoke and lights to create a holographic ring effect. A particularly fascinating one was a series of projected lights creating an energetic ribbon effect. Photographing them never produced the same formation twice.

 

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Fascinating light trails

 

And to end with a common Aberdonian saying created in neon light tubes…..

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If you are in the Aberdeen area this weekend, it is definitely worth a visit – limited time only!