Category Archives: photography

Fun in the field at the Hampton Riding Centre

My friend Jennifer owns and operates the #HamptonRidingCentre. Each year she offers a series of training clinics for aspiring cross-country riders. At the beginning levels she believes it is important to develop confidence in riding at faster speeds and jumping while riding at speed as well. It’s not as easy as it might sound or look!

For me, as a photographer, it’s fun to capture the action as people learn while having fun out in the field enjoying their horses instead of being confined to a fenced-in riding ring. Enjoy the slideshow!

_L2H1936 web.jpg_L2H1949 web.jpg_L2H1954 web.jpg_L2H1964 web.jpg_L2H1965 web.jpg_L2H1973 web.jpg_L2H1977 web.jpg_L2H1979 web.jpg_L2H1984 web.jpg_L2H1986 web.jpg_L2H2031 web.jpg_L2H2035 web.jpg_L2H2064 web.jpg_L2H2073 web.jpg_L2H2076 web.jpg_L2H2077 web.jpg_L2H2078 web.jpg_L2H2079 web.jpg_L2H2080 web.jpg_L2H2081 web.jpg_L2H2082 web.jpg_L2H2083 web.jpg_L2H2084 web.jpg_L2H2085 web.jpg_L2H2086 web.jpg_L2H2087 web.jpg_L2H2088 web.jpg_L2H2090 web.jpg_L2H2091 web.jpg_L2H2092 web.jpg_L2H2093 web.jpg_L2H2094 web.jpg_L2H2095 web.jpg_L2H2096 web.jpg_L2H2097 web.jpg_L2H2098 web.jpg_L2H2099 web.jpg_L2H2100 web.jpg_L2H2103 web.jpg_L2H2162 web.jpg_L2H2163 web.jpg_L2H2164 web.jpg_L2H2165 web.jpg

I hope you enjoyed your quick overview of these ladies learning about regulating pace and jumping obstacles within the pace. Thanks, Jen, for letting me play too!

 

Also posted in BLOG, horse training, horses, New Brunswick Tagged , , |

The time has come

It’s the time of year that farmers have a love/hate relationship with their fields. It is haying season.

Sunrise on Mulberry Lane

On the first really sunny day we’d had in a while, Harley and I headed out early for our morning walk. The sunrise over the hills of Picadilly seen from Mulberry Lane was spectacular. Fields on both sides of the road were fragrant with mature hay, ready for harvest.

Roadside weeds at sunrise

Even weeds look beautiful at sunrise. Harley is patient when I stop to shoot photos, taking my time to bend over and have a look to see how a photo might appear.

Hay as far as the eye can see

In the warm glow of sunrise, the hay takes on a golden cast.

Seed heads begin to dance as a light breeze blows across the field.

Timothy glowing

The mature seed heads of the timothy hay glow as they blow in the early morning breeze.

Almost beyond mature, the hay crop is ready. It’s time for that first cut and judging by the density of the growth in the fields, the yield should be excellent. Farmer Brown’s cows will eat well this winter!

In another day or two this field will first be full of bales – and then empty, ready to grow some more for a second cut and harvest for the season.

I love haying season (now that I no longer have to lift and stack bales). The smell of the dew drenched grass and then the intoxication of the aroma of newly cut hay wafting in my windows.

 

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Canada, farming, New Brunswick, seasons Tagged , , , |

It’s summer time!

Yay, it’s summer time and, as the song says, the living is easy! Well, it’s easier.

There are lawns to mow, gardens to plant and tend, and, or course, the decorative touches around the house that make being outside a joy on a warm summer day.

Purple Petunias

I’m not sure why, but this year when I shopped for annual flowers for my five hanging baskets, the purple petunias won out over all the other offerings. Some people associate purple with sadness or loss. Not me. These flowers are prolific and so very, very cheerful on a bright summer day.

More purple flowers found their way into the whimsical horse planter on my deck railing.

Dew drops on petals – macro photo

When I stepped out the door early this morning the first thing I noticed was the collection of tiny dew drops on the delicate petals of my purple flowers. I dashed back into the house and grabbed my macro lens to take an up close and personal look at them.

Dew drops – macro 1X

The way they reflect the light and colours around them intrigues me.

dew drops on petals macro at 2X

Yes, it is summer time and, although there are chores to be done, the living IS easier and there are flowers to admire. Enjoy the warmth and sunshine when it’s available. Slow down a bit to enjoy this most fleeting of the seasons. Breathe in the scents that Mother Nature is providing – from the heady aroma of roses to the musky smells emanating from the bushes along the roadside. The smell of recently cut grass is a hallmark of the season as is the smell of clothes dried on a line outside in the sun.

The season is far too short. Pull on some comfortable clothes and venture out. It’s amazing what the warmth, sunshine, sights and scents of the season will do for your soul.

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, seasons Tagged , , , , , |

In the garden

In the garden I could generally be described as a failure. When we first moved to our current home the lot definitely needed a little sprucing up, a few additions to brighten the space and make it feel more like a home. So, off I went to our local nursery, #SunNurseries. 

I got lots of advice and when I confessed my total lack of knowledge and or skill in terms of keeping a garden healthy and blooming, they recommended some perennial plants that (at least in theory) even I couldn’t kill (easily). I do believe they were right. That lovely white rose is from one of three double blooming rose bushes that are thriving under my (complete lack of) care. In fact, at the moment, they are covered in delightful buds just waiting to burst forth into full bloom!

The side of the garage was a rather barren looking space, so a perennial bed was created there and we planted an assortment of plants – some flowering (like a lilac bush and some black eyed susans for the fall) and some with interesting foliage (like the now humungous hostas).

To create a bit more colour around the property I added five hanging baskets on the side of our deck plus a planter on the top rail with some gorgeous purple and mauve flowers. Just because we live in a mini-home in a park doesn’t mean our environment has to be barren and dull.

 

I am no gardener, but at least I can make an attempt to brighten our environment and make our yard a pleasant place to be.

 

Also posted in BLOG, New Brunswick, seasons Tagged , , |

Little rays of hope

Spring seems to be delaying her full arrival here in the Maritimes; but there are little rays of hope.

In the fields full of dandelions…

Dandelion Fields Forever

Or little individual blossoms…

Even in the seed heads past their prime, there is hope. Hope for the summer to come. Hope that the bees find the flowers and drink heartily. Hope for warmth and sunshine and hope for more flowers as well.

 

Dandelion Seed Head spreading the joy.

There is also hope in the lilac blooms finally appearing on the shrubs.

And in the tiny white flowers on the trees…

In other words, it is the season of hope, the season for dreaming and planning for the future. It is the season when we can finally venture outdoors without quite so many layers of warm clothes and, when the sun does shine, it is the season when we feel its warmth on our skin.

Spring does bring us little rays of hope with each lengthening day.

 

 

 

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, seasons, spring Tagged , |

Odes have been written to Spring

Flood waters of the St. John River near Maugerville, NB May 18, 2017

For centuries poets around the world have written odes to the beauty of spring. Spring, the re-birth of the world after a long, cold and dreary winter. Spring, the beginning of warmth and strong sunshine. Spring, the season of hope.

Beautiful blossoms

Trees of all sorts have been pushing forth their amazing blossoms, some setting fruit for the coming season.

But Mother Nature has been less than cooperative this year. The temperature outside is bitterly cold for late May. We have the heat turned on, the windows closed and I’ve dug out the heavy blankets for the bed – again.

Ever optimistic, the canopy rests on the deck, the bistro table and chairs are ready for morning coffee. The hummingbird feeder has been hung for quite a while – with only one lone, occasional visitor.

Spring? This is a cruel joke this year. Cold, heavy rains and strong winds would discourage the most optimistic of souls.

Spring? Where are you? Come back, please? And may summer follow you to warm our bodies and our souls!

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, New Brunswick, seasons, spring

Chocolate heaven

Heaven’s plate!

Remember the song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan? Well, a visit to Adorable Chocolat in Shediac, New Brunswick, is a chocolate lover’s version of knocking on heaven’s door.

I spent a couple of days with #DoreenPendgracs of #Chocolatour fame this week. She wanted to visit a chocolatier that she’d heard of from Shediac and needed a ‘tour guide’ who knew the area. Naturally, I volunteered – and I am SO glad I did.

I picked Doreen up at the Moncton airport Tuesday afternoon and we had a leisurely drive to Shediac. When we arrived the weather was perfect – the sun was shining, there was no wind to speak of and barely a ripple in the water!

Shediac is, of course, famous for its lobster. Sadly I’m allergic to shellfish so Doreen resisted indulging while I was with her, but I hope she was able to get some to take home with her next Monday.

We roamed around the town, getting our bearings. No visit to Shediac would be complete without the requisite photo with the world’s biggest lobster!

 

When a Prairie girl visits the Maritimes, she needs to see a few traditional things – like lighthouses and fishing boats at the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf. We enjoyed exploring what there was to see.

Pointe-du-Chêne wharf

 

Lighthouse on the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf

 

Doreen enjoying the view from the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf

Then we headed off to Cocagne to meet our hosts for the night – Mathieu, Ginette and their two delightful children, Florence and Louis – and Pudding, the guinea pig. The conversation was, of course, all about chocolate. Spending time with Doreen is an education in the finer points of all things chocolate. Ginette, co-owner of Adorable Chocolat, the shop we’d be visiting in the morning, is passionate about chocolate and there was a lot of lively discussion between the two, and the rest of us, about various chocolate blends, sources of cocoa beans, recipes and methods. We sampled some bars of chocolate that Doreen had brought with her from chocolatiers from Mexico and Ontario. I was utterly fascinated as I had no idea how complex the world of a chocolatier could be.

After a lovely dinner en famille, we headed off to bed for a good night’s sleep. You want to be rested for this experience.

In the morning we loaded the car and headed back to Shediac for a tour of Adorable Chocolat and the opportunity to sample what, in my opinion, is the best chocolate I have EVER tasted.

The shop and café are on Main Street in Shediac. If you are heading to Parlee Beach you’ll have to pass right by!

Ginette Ahier et Frédéric Desclos – master chocolatiers

Ginette and Frédéric welcomed us to their shop and we spent a delightful two hours with them. I learned that sampling chocolate is a lot like sampling wine: you take a small ‘sip’ and let it melt in your mouth so the ‘notes’ or layers of flavour have a chance to reach the taste buds on the roof of your mouth and the back of your tongue. In some you can sense a fruity aftertaste; in others a hint of anise. It was intriguing to say the least.

As our hosts prepared each sample, they first asked us to figure out the flavours and then explained how they chose the various blends of chocolate from sources around the world. This is not your average candy bar. The chocolate here is a sensual experience.

Tasting their premium “Scorpion” bars – both milk chocolate and dark (my favourite) – is an adventure in pleasure. As the chocolate melts in your mouth the flavours saturate your senses and fill you with joy!

#DoreenPendgracs sampling Scorpion chocolate- a happy experience.

Premium bars in both Milk and Dark chocolate. This milk chocolate is nothing like the commercial candy bars you may be used to. It’s AMAZING!

The shelves of the boutique are filled with goodies to delight your senses.

And the delicate macrons each filled with a different and tempting flavour…

Doreen and Frédéric discussing the fine points of chocolate creation

Frédéric perusing his recipe collection

We were sad to leave our new friends at Adorable Chocolat but I know that I, for one, will return.

Merci beaucoup, mes amis. Je suis impatient de visiter bientôt votre boutique.

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick

Winding down in Ireland

We spent our last two ‘working’ days at the charming Old Ground hotel in the beautiful town of Ennis. After our last, and stimulating, official workshop with #GerardCollins we boarded the bus for a final tourism jaunt that included the amazing 8-mile long Cliffs of Moher , a visit to the Burren and a stop at the Poulnabrone Domen – an ancient portal tomb, surrounded by faerie trees. A magical day indeed and we were lucky to also enjoy clear skies and sunshine.

Atop the cliffs people were strolling and cattle grazed – hopefully with enough sense not to plunge over the edge to their deaths 700 feet below.

Cliffs of Moher

 

Very narrow roads through the Irish countryside.

One of many occasions when we were grateful for Patrick’s driving skills. This stretch was relatively flat with no serious drop-offs, but there were times when the sea was below us as we crept past oncoming buses or trucks.

After the Cliffs of Moher we headed to what was described as a lunar landscape of the Burren – well named. It reminded me of the area around Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia.

And then it was off to the Poulnabrone Dolmen. I’m a huge fan of the #Outlander series by #DianaGabaldon. Although her stories were set in the highlands of Scotland, I could imagine mystical characters touching these portal stones or witches dancing in the moonlight around them.

The stones date back to between 4200BC and 2900BC and no doubt possess some mystical qualities.

On the grounds there were also faerie trees. One of our number, Ann Brennan, was researching faerie stories for a children’s book she was working on. She pointed out one of the famed trees and left tokens of crystal and food for the faeries who blessed our visit. On our way back to Dublin the next day Patrick pointed out a spot where a major highway had been diverted around a faerie tree, so strong is the belief and respect for the traditions.

FaerieTree

 

#AnnBrennan telling faerie tales before placing tokens beneath the tree.

Continuing on with my tree fetish, I had to capture some shots of the way the branches grow in these mystical trees – perfect spots for faeries to climb, hide and keep an eye on things.

And so our adventure came to an end. We had a dinner back at the Old Ground Hotel that night and early the next morning headed back to Dublin. Once again we passed miles of dry stone walls and scenes typical of the Irish countryside. A final dinner was held in downtown Dublin followed by each of us reading something we’d written. The open sharing of experiences was amazing considering what a widely diverse group of people we were. There was a phenomenal amount of talent displayed that night – each piece read leaving us yearning to hear more from each reader.

Dry Stone Wall. Notice how the stones are placed to allow rain or snow to drain through, not stay to freeze, expand and destroy the structure. Clever builders those old craftsmen.

 

Farewell Ireland. I will miss the lilt of your people’s language and laughter, the sense of the mystical and magical that emanates from your very soul. I return to my ‘real’ life forever changed, for the better, I hope.

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Travel, writing Tagged , , , , , , |

Continuing on to Ennis

Jane Simpson greeting one of the ‘locals’.

Those who know me know I’ve been a horse-crazy person my whole life. Somehow, on this trip, I failed to scratch my equine photography itch except as we were leaving the Celtic Crystal spot. Right next door was a Connemara Pony breeding farm so I managed to catch a few shots.

New foal hiding behind his dam – a little camera shy.

 

We stopped for lunch in Galway City and had a chance to wander around the streets. At this point the cold / virus, whatever it was, that I’d been resisting for days really took hold so I made a beeline to a pharmacy right after lunch. Other group members managed to capture shots of the amazing street performers that seemed to be everywhere. Sadly I missed out on most of that – but that’s ok. I’m not really a ‘city’ person anyway.

Our next break came at Coole Park en route to Ennis. It was formerly the home of dramatist and folklorist Lady Gregory who entertained famous writers and cultural icons of her time. There’s an “Autograph Tree” (a Cooper beech) in one of the beautiful gardens featuring carved signatures from Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and many others who spent time there. The 1000 acre park was developed by Lady Gregory’s husband and forebearers as a nature preserve and arboretum. The species of plants, trees and wildlife have inspired numerous literary and works of art. I could have spent all day there – but the bus was leaving for the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis.

A remaining corner from the original house on the estate before it was ceded to the Irish State in 1927.

I am, and have always been, fascinated by trees. Wandering the grounds of Coole Park I was totally intrigued by the scenes unfolding before me, any one of which would have made a wonderful setting for a book or movie.

Textures and faces revealed in the bark of this ancient tree.

Segments of the park were originally separated by stone walls like this.

I indulged my fascination with trees, their shapes, colours and textures. In the ones below I could imagine those long, skinny split branches as legs of an acrobat standing on his head, legs waving in the breeze.

There could be creatures here in these dark woods, reaching out to snag unwary passersby.

The urge to climb this tree and perch high in the branches to see what magical armies might be marching toward us was almost overwhelming. Such amazing settings for stories, folk tales and to stir the imagination.

Brave blossoms forcing their way up to the light and air through tiny crevices in the rock walls!

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Travel, writing Tagged , , |

Onward to Ennis

We left the town of Cong after touring the Abbey and exploring the side streets, not to mention a bit of shopping! Then our tour took us through Connemara – surrounded by mountains, punctuated with lakes and bogs. Patrick, our driver, educated us all on how peat is harvested, dried and used, the beauty of the many lakes, and farming practices in the area.

I was totally amazed by the endless ha’penny fences. According to Patrick, centuries ago children were paid a half penny a day to clear stones from fields. They were then used to make these dry stone fences delineating fields and pastures, primarily for sheep. An amazing craft, the fences are built with no mortar and constructed in such a way that any rain or winter snow won’t remain between the stones to freeze and destroy the structure. Mile after mile we saw these perfect, straight and strong fences and were astounded.

Ha’penny fences in Connemara.

Patrick then offered us an opportunity to diverge from our itinerary and visit the Celtic Crystal showroom to experience a demonstration of glass carving. We quickly agreed that this would be a terrific idea. The crystal creations are all created freehand by trained and experienced glass cutting craftsmen. No patterns or templates are used in the manufacture of these individual pieces.

 

 

We watched in fascination as the craftsman took a simple blown-glass bowl and began to cut the patterns, all by ‘eye’, into the crystal. It takes eight years of intensive training and practice to become so skilled in this delicate operation.

The Claddagh design

Irish Harp design on a portion of the 3′ high crystal cup

3′ high hand carved crystal cup.

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Travel, writing Tagged , , , , , |