Sunday, 20 October 2013

SIMPLY A MOMENT - October 2013

Life has been busy here and I like taking part in Alexa's monthly neme 'Simply a Moment'.  This is a chance to reflect and take stock, and I have not had time to join in lately.  There are other 'moments' that I could share, but the one I have chosen has stayed with me.  I have been meaning to post about it so this seems a good time, even though it is not recent. 
At the time I posted about it on Facebook, as I felt a need to share my experience when it happened.  So the details are accurate and I can cunjure the feelings easily. I was grateful to friends and family who shared my surprise.   For more 'Simply a Moment' stories head over to Alexa, and I hope to be back next month with another of my own.


23rd August 10:35am

I had been working hard indoors and it was brunch time. The sun was shining and it was warm so I decided to make a sandwich and cup of tea and sit outside.  We built a new pond this summer. Just a small one, and I hoped to attract frogs and newts back into our garden.  So I thought I would take a chair next to the pond and if I couldn't see any wildlife there was always the reflection of tress and sky in the water to enjoy......

The pond is against the fence with a tall weeping birch to one side.  I love this tree. It is graceful and it softens the newness of the pond.  I have planted around the edges and they are getting established. I have also planted water mint and 'parrot feather' in the pond.  

I settle onto my chair and balance the plate on my lap.  The sun is warm and there is stillness in the air.  I look at the surface of the pond.  The water plants have spread and covered much of the water and I think how healthy they look.  Then suddenly I become aware of lots of movement.  It surprises me and I wonder what can be causing it.  I rise from the chair and put my plate on the seat.  Looking more closely into the pond I see lots of disturbance, then a fleeting glimpse of something large moving around.  There are no fish in this pond. We have left it for wildlife, and thoughts race through my mind.  What is this?  Then suddenly I see more movement, scales, and I realise it is a snake. A large snake judging by the size of the disturbance.  I feel excited.  I become completely absorbed in watching as a tip of its tail appears and 'feels' for the edge of the pond. 

The snake works it way onto a small ledge backwards, folding its length back and forth taking up the available space.  This feels surreal.  Snakes are not frequently seen in our garden. I am not afraid and identify it.  A harmless grass snake, not an adder, my mind is trying to take all this in and to make sense of what I am seeing.  It is unexpected and I feel glued to the spot, watching.
Then the snakes lifts the last of its body out of the water and I see a frog in its mouth.  I know now why there was so much disturbance in the pond.  All this happens within a seconds, although it feels like time has slowed. My excitement turns to unease.  At first I think the frog must be dead but then I see the back leg move occasionally. I feel uncomfortable at what I see. I am oblivious to everything else. The snake is trying to make a secure footing, I want to watch but I don't want to see. It is disturbing, and yet I am fascinated.  

I dash indoors for my camera. It is on the kitchen worktop so I am quick. I switch the camera on and I feel even more uncomfortable as I zoom in and focus to take photos.  But I know I would regret not having this recorded. I feel privileged to be here, to witness
nature in its raw.  This is not like watching a TV documentary or a picture in a book.  This is causing dilemma. I want to watch. I want to wash these imagines and thoughts from my mind. I want to rescue the frog....

Photo: I thought I'd sit by my new wildlife pond to have lunch and was surprised to see lots of movement among the water plants. Then I saw a huge snake - it must be about 2 ft in length stretched out. I was quite excited, and it started to manoeuvre itself backwards out of the pond and found a edge where it could rest. 

It was then I saw this poor frog hanging out of it's mouth!  I think this snake has bitten off more than he can chew (excuse the pun!)  I grabbed my camera and watched to see what would happen and the snake was clever enough to find a small exit between the rocks but he can not get the frog through. 

I am feeling disturbed now.  The poor frog is still a live and when the snake released hold to get a better grip the frog made a quick move - it is now caught by the leg.  Urgh!!  I love nature but didn't expect it to be so raw in my garden.  I've had to come inside and I have mixed feelings about going back to see what happened.  Part of me wanted to rescue the frog but I know it will probably die from shock or injury anyway.
The snake continues to use its tail to find direction.  It feels a small gap between the rocks and goes into it backwards.  The soil is soft, dug when the pond was built. It is not yet compressed by time and the snake starts to make an exit.  Then it stops.  The frog is too big to go through the gap. I watch wondering what will happen...
The snake is opening it mouth, trying to gain a more secure hold.  The frog starts to move now, seeing a window of opportunity for escape. I realise it has more life than I realised. The frog makes a sudden attempt but my heart sinks when the snake reacts fast, catching the frog by its back leg.  It struggles but is held tight. Now I feel even more disturbed. The frog is looking towards me. I  can see its eyes. I go indoors.  The thoughts and vision stay with me. My sandwich remains on the chair and my tea is getting cold.

Not all 'moments' are heart warming.  This was powerful, and as much as it was distasteful and distressing to watch, I felt privileged to be present.  It is not something I want to experience again and for those who might wonder, my curiosity did get the better of me.  When I eventually mustarded the courage to go back outside the snake was back in the pond.  It had managed to swallow the frog almost completely and I was there to watch it make an alternative exit. Then it moved through the ferns that edge the pond and I was amazed how fast it moved. Gone in the blink of an eye. I wanted a natural pond to encourage wildlife. I never expected to see this.
And probably I never will again. I was in the right place at the right time. Next year I am hoping for tadpoles and newts please!  


5 in 5 - Château de Pleujouse - October 2013

I have friends who are keen photographers but who do not have blogs. Now I only mention this because Sol was interested in taking part in my monthly photo challenge.  This is where you take 5 photos in 5 minutes and post five of your favourites. So I invited Sol to post her photos here and I am so glad that I did.
Sol lives in Switzerland and these photos are of
"Château de Pleujouse", near Saint Ursanne. 
Over to Sol:
"It was Sunday. My husband was off work and we didn't feel like being at home or cooking that day.  So we thought about the restaurant existing inside of this little castle but we were not sure if it was still in function.
It was closed, but the gates were open to the public and nobody was there, only us.  We started to look around when we found the stairs way up to the round veranda.
I thought about the '5 in 5' post on your blog.... !"

What amazing views, and I love the colour of the trees.  Those in the background look purple tinged and I am glad that Sol sent these photos to me.  She is planning to start a new blog soon. I will look forward to this as she is an amazing artist and is currently setting up a new studio.  

So thank you Sol, and if you would like to take part in this challenge you would be very welcome.  The link for October posts is open until 25th and more information can be found here

Thank you for popping by!

Sunday, 13 October 2013


A while back I posted about 'The Artist’s Way’, and how I planned to start working through the book again on October 1st.  Well, so much has happened since that first post. First, I have been blown away by the number of people who accepted the invitation to join me. A Facebook group has been set up and our group stretches from Australia to USA, including members in Canada, Switzerland and Spain.
I have loved the excited comments as books have arrived from Amazon. Or hearing about what members have done as Artists Dates. We have been inspired by each others ideas and offered encouragement and motivation for writing Morning Pages. And we are only 2 weeks in!
The year ahead is going to be great fun!
 If you would like to join us you would be very welcome! There is more information in my previous post here and cut off date is 1st November.  So if you want to join in please act fast to save disappointment!

To sign up email me with your full name saying that you would like to take part in The Artist’s Way course and please include your Facebook contact details so that I can add you to our close group page :
 Finally, if you have any questions please email or leave a comment.
Thank you!

Friday, 11 October 2013

5 in 5 - MELANIE October 2013

Now those who follow my posts may know that Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia.  She loves photography and enjoys taking part in this monthly challenge.  There is just one problem. Melanie does not have a blog!  And so each month I post her photos and love that we have found a way for her to take part. 

If you read last months post you may also know that Melanie's daughter had a serious car accident while in Namibia.  Thank you to everyone who posted kind thoughts and wishes. Melanie's daughter was flown back to UK with Melanie as her escort.  She is making a slow but good recovery and Melanie is staying with her until December when hopefully she will be fit enough to manage without a high level of support.  The photos for this months 5 in 5 challenge were taken in UK.  So, over to Melanie:

"After much messing around on the tablet I have a 5 in 5 for October.  Wish I had my PC which I am used to for helping.  However I managed without using helpdesk support to find and install a free app for the tablet to do collages.  My walk for the five in five was on Southampton Common which was a hive of activity.  There were dogs chasing balls, toddlers riding bikes, people out jogging and many more enjoying the Common.  I set out to find a spot where I could take photos of five different bushes with berries.  However in the area I chose I only found four varieties so my fifth photo shows the beautiful blue sky as a background to a dead tree.  I love dead trees and invariably a day out in Oz  with a camera will include a dead eucalyptus tree.  I was so happy to find a dead tree on the common even though it wasn't eucalyptus and it is the centre piece in my 5 in 5".

Thank you Melanie!  I love the theme of berries and if you to find out what other people have posted you can find links and more information about the challenge here. And if you'd like to join in you have until 25th before the link closes! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

5 in 5 - PROJECTS PLANNED October 2013

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
 each month I post 5 photos that I have
 taken in 5 minutes. 

These past weeks have been extra busy and despite best effort I have not used opportunities to take photos for this months 5 in 5.  Thoughts of going to the river were dismissed as the weather was dull and cloudy this morning.  And as I chose this challenge in order to extend and practice my skills I decided I might as well take photos around the house instead.  The light is getting poor now that summer is drawing to an end, winter photos always present a challenge for me. Looking around I realised there are some projects planned or underway, so I decided that posting about these might give me the nudge to finish them.  So here they are:

A handmade dresser. This has been repositioned and as much as I love this piece I am bored with the pine. I want some light and colour in my life so I plan to paint it. I have yet to decide what colour....


The same applies to this table.  It is long loved and it is a bit like Trigger's broom in 'Only Fools and Horses'. The top has been routed and sanded, a drawer fitted underneath, and new legs fitted.  It looks nothing like the original!  And soon it will have another change because this will be painted to match the chairs.

These picture frames were an impulsive buy but I loved them. I just need to put my own photos in them now. See the mosaic mirror above?  I have plans for this too.
The mirror will be added to these and hung on a blank wall to give it more interest and reflective light.  Two of the mirrors are new, the rest have been in our home for a while or been passed through the family. We have one or two others to add to this collection and I'm looking forward to measuring the space.  I might just have to search antique shops or Boot Fairs and but more!

We have also added new shelves and I have been busy reorganising my book collection.  I plan to be ruthless and to pass on some of the books that I will not read again. Some to charity shops, and some to friends.  Others will go to Bookcrossing and I need to get labels printed and set time aside to register them. This all takes time and often the books remain in a pile waiting for attention. So I picked House Detox out and left it prominent as a reminder!

Someone else who uses '5 in 5' to practice her photographic skills is Rinda. I love how she went into detail here about how she did this. It is exciting each month to see how everyone uses different approaches to this challenge. Some use themes, a place or locality, or it could be simply be something fun. And if you like to take part this month you would be VERY welcome! Here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a mobile timer for 5 minutes.

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool.
   You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos. 
If you want to know more there are details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your 5 in 5 blog page and be easier for them to find.

Thank you to those who have taken part so far. I have loved seeing your photos and hope you will be back with more. 

And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!

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