Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Scotch pies, caramel cakes, haggis and chips; it must be the Nairn Highland Games

I have been up in Scotland, eating for England; at a wedding and the Nairn Highland Games.

My diet for three days consisted of cake, pies and haggis, followed by macaroni pie, cake and then more cake and some Scottish tablet.

It was good, but I have come home with a renewed love of all things green on the food front.

The Nairn games are special for me, as they are set in my ancestral home, and because I can't resist a piper, preferably in a massed pipe band.

Marching to the highland games in Nairn

If you want to make me cry, just make me listen to the Scots Dragoon Guards playing Amazing Grace. It works every time.

The games are traditional; you know exactly what will happen as every year it is the same. Steeped in tradition. Tossing the caber, highland dancing, tug of war, pipers, and plenty tartan and kilts.

In full regalia before the procession commences

technology and tartan

Nairn Games 2014

Nairn Games 2014 at the Links

Right next to the show ground are the 'showies' -  a funfair for those less attracted to traditional pursuits. The contrast within a hundred yards is quite surreal. Blaring music and people having fun spending money on the penny falls and dodgems. All you need to do is walk past the toilets and you enter a completely different world. Not everyone seems that happy to be there.

all the fun of the fair

no softy cissys or cry baby's

I met Darth Vader in a kilt

he seemed quite pleased to see me

And a levitating child running with her eyes closed.......

levitating child

The most popular ride is the 'limbo dancer' which bears no resemblance whatsoever to its title.

the Limbo Dancer

more fun at the showies; waiting for the ride...........

a happy punter

stall holders have very traditional prams for their children

There is no shortage of food at the games, day or night.

jumbo hot dogs

Burger palace


But I limit myself to Ashers cakes, as they are what I have eaten for the last 40 years and more.

Ashers cakes

Mine is the one on the top. A caramel tart.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red - poppies in the moat

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins © Caroline Fraser

Other Half (OH) and I made a rare weekend foray to town today.

We went on the DLR; which was entertaining. We had only been on the train for about 5 seconds when a very polite gentleman asked us if we would take part in a satisfaction questionnaire.

Having no reason to refuse, we answered his questions..........

How clean did we think the train was?

What about the information signs on the train? How comfortable?

And how valued did we feel?


How valued do you feel on a train?

£2.30 worth?

Well if it had been a free ride we might have felt very valued. Or if we had been offered free entertainment perhaps that would have helped. We were honest, and said it was difficult to answer after only 5 seconds on the train.

So why were we travelling?

And where from?

Phone number?

What were they trying to achieve?

We will never know.

Which questions did we decline to answer?

You can probably guess.

We visited the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London; the ceramic installation by Paul Cummins.

Poppies © Caroline Fraser

888,246 ceramic poppies will be planted and then sold in memory of the British and Commonwealth dead of the first world war.

Quite a feat, and very moving.

The title was inspired by a line in the will of a Derbyshire man who joined up in the earliest days of the war and died in Flanders.

Ceramic poppies in the moat at the Tower of London © Caroline Fraser

Walking back past the 'gherkin' we came across some of the benches from 'Books about Town'

I was tempted to photograph the  Dr Zeuss bench featuring "The cat in the Hat ", one of my favourite books from childhood, but given the serious nature of our visit felt that the "War Horse"  by Michael Morpurgo one was probably more fitting for today.

War Horse bench © Caroline Fraser

If you would like it, you can bid for it .

Friday, 8 August 2014

Stuck on earth ?

Just had to share this app produced by Trey Ratcliff and entitled "Stuck on Earth"

Planning a trip?

Want to see where the best images might be found?

Want to get ideas about where to visit in a specific location and enjoy fabulous images by other photographer's to whet your appetite?

It is easy to use and I am currently busy trying to decide where to go for my next photography trip.


Iceland round trip?


As you can see, I am not one for a sunbed by a pool.

Just wish it would tell me which to choose and where the weather is guaranteed to be perfect........ for photography that is......

Got that Trey? I am sure you can fix it.

You can see more about it and lots more on Trey's website "Stuck in Customs"

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

I'd rather have a pebble than a diamond.............precious things and photographic influences

I am preparing a talk about abstract landscape photography.

I would love to tell some amusing anecdotes or jokes on the subject to lighten up the presentation. Google doesn't have any on this topic. Possibly because it really isn't a very amusing topic. I may have to  find something deep and meaningful to say instead. Or most probably not. I can't do 'art-speak'.

But I do know what I like even if I struggle to say "why". The emotional impact of an image is  a lot to do with the 'why'. How it makes you feel. Where it takes you in your mind. The memories that it evokes. The senses that are stimulated; touch, sound, smell. Art  is easier to sell if it stimulates all the senses in some way and takes the viewer on a journey to another place within their head.

I have been asked to list the  photographers who have most influenced me as part of my recent learning.

That was easy, and the list was long, so I'll stick to my top three.

Number one has to be Paul Kenny who creates other-worldy abstracts from objects on the seashore and sea water.

I am not one for jewels, but see his works as precious in the same way that others might see a Faberge egg or a diamond. I would rather have one of his prints than any gold or silver.

Second must be Chris Friel for his multiple exposure portraits that pack emotional punch, and his abstracted landscapes that use colour and minimalism to perfection.

His work is always surprising, and ever changing. A master of experimentation and persistence.

 Thirdly I would choose Susan Derges for her camera-less images of moonlight taken from a river bed;

This bears an uncanny similarity of tones and shapes to Paul Kenny's "Blue Moon" above, despite being produce by completely different processes. There is something very satisfying about circles, and calming about the colour blue. Flowing water and luminous landscapes without a waterfall in sight. Cool and refreshing.

I would dive in if it weren't for the toad spawn.........

Saturday, 19 July 2014

sand in my eyes and wind in my hair - a summer storm rolls in at Camber Sands

dark clouds on the horizon

Last night I was home alone at Camber Sands on the hottest day of the year.

The TV was broken  ( thanks to 4G ) and I was internet free, so after a swim in the sea and a lie on the sand in the sun followed by  a shower and some food, the night was still young.

What to do?

Some grey clouds appeared at my window on what had been a cloudless day.

I decided to investigate with my camera, as the beach at sundown can be beautiful.

In the car park grey clouds appeared overhead and I climbed the dunes to see what was on offer.

From the top the colours were more reminiscent of the Hebrides and little people played on.

I sat down on a clump of marram grass and said hello to the flying ants. They persuaded me that I needed to go lower, down onto the beach.

Add caption

Some different clouds started appearing in the sky.

A family played on.

The clouds got bigger and bolder.

storm clouds arriving

I spent ages trying to capture a streak of lightening. I captured just one of the many flashes and streaks that hit the water.

lightening at Camber Sands


Suddenly it became clear that the clouds were moving really fast, and the seagulls were screeching as a strong wind came up.

There was a roaring noise and everyone started running towards the dunes.

time to run

As I ran up the dunes I wished that the sand blowing around me was not a problem for my camera, which had to be quickly put away.

I could barely see; there was sand in my ears, eyes and face whipping over the dunes towards the car park, and providing what one man happily advised me was a free exfoliation service. It hurt!

As I reached the top and over to the safety of the car park I saw the black clouds heading over Camber.

Storm clouds over camber Sands

I ran home and waited for the rain………

The moral of this story?

If you don't go out you won't get the pictures!

Thank you 4G.