Monday, 21 December 2015

Cambridge Bikers Christmas Toy Run 2015

It was back in December 2013 that the first revial run of the Cambridge Bikers Christmas Toy Run to Addenbrookes Hospital took place, and what an incredible event it was! Now in its third year, we joined the group of 23 Walden Bikers who met on The Common in Saffron Walden at 8am, on a beautifully mild December Sunday. Many riders took the opportunity to decorate their bikes and dress in seasonal style.

The convoy of Walden Bikers made their way along the M11, on route to joining the main group of bikers at La Pergola Restuarant, some way outside of the city.

Such was the scale of the event that ITV were there to cover the story.

A safety briefing was held, led by 'Chief Santa' Peter Vasey.
The numbers taking part had more than doubled since 2013, and five police motorcycle riders were to accompany the estimated 320+ motorbikes, riders and pillion riders, on the ride to Addenbrookes Hospital. 

During the ride in to the city, cars tooted their horns, families waved from windows and some were drawn outside (still in their pyjamas) by the rumble of this mass of motorbikes. Im sure it was an amazing thing to watch and I can say that it was just as amazing to be part of the event, knowing that the whole reason for it was to donate toys and gifts for the children who would be spending Christmas in hospital.

The generosity of the bikers was incredible. Several transport cages were filled to overflowing with everything from pyjamas to teddy bears...

...and to see the joy on the faces of these poorly children, it summed up the whole essence of Christmas.


Saturday, 19 December 2015


      the chapter is almost at a close

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Marsh Pride Lions

I have to say that I was shocked and saddened this afternoon, to hear reports in the news that lions from the famed Marsh Pride in the Maasai Mara had been poisoned, with two confirmed dead as a result.

Jonathan Scott, zoologist, BBC presenter and author of a book about them said that they were popular with visitors because it was always possible to find them in the same place. However, of late, the pride had been pushed to the fringes by the Maasai needing to herd their cattle onto grazing land.

It was back in 2009 that I spent several amazing days in the Mara with Jonathan, staying with a group at Kicheche Camp and was able to observe this well known and well studied pride of lions, stars of BBC series Big Cat Diary.
I learnt it was possible to identify each individual from their whisker pattern and so it was easy for the lives of specific lions to be followed. One such popular lioness was Bibi, and sadly it appears she may have been one of the victims.

It seems that three men have now been charged with poisoning.
Reports are appearing online about the incident. It is a difficult one as grazing is in short supply and so when a lion attacks their cattle, they have every reason to be angry. However, to poison the animals is to poison the very thing that brings revenue to the region. As the lion population is falling, a careful balance must be struck between nature and natives.

It was with this news that I went back into my archives and pulled out a few shots from my time with the Marsh Pride. It is quite interesting to see how I look at shots I passed over back in 2006 and see them in a different light today, so do forgive me if I share a few with you now.


Friday, 4 December 2015

Painting with Light - A Photo Walk

The big Christmas lights switch-on happened in our pretty little north Essex town of Saffron Walden last weekend,
so what better time to dust off the cameras to make the most of the seasonal light display?
Now how many times have I heard...
"But I dont seem to be able to get the colours right and they end up blurred!"

Well here is where I can help...


Do I need to say more? Only that there are just a couple of places remaining as I write and this will be the only walk I will be able to lead with the Christmas Lights as a feature - so get in there quickly!

But fear not if your calendar is already booked and you would like to come along on a photo walk, I will be leading more come the New Year, covering different topics. Kicking off on Sunday 20th (TBC) with a re-run of the popular 'composition' walk, first held in November. As before, tickets will be available soon from Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre and (hopefully) online. Otherwise, email me at to register your interest.

I do look forward to meeting my 'ambling photogs' on Sunday 13th!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

New Beginning...

The Milky Way over Lough Hyne

The cloud is finally clearing and it is the beginning of a new month, with new hopes, new dreams
...and a new future.
What better time to return to blogging - something I had enjoyed so much and so sadly, had got drawn away from.

My thanks to Y for encouraging me return.

This is MY Advent!

Sunday, 19 July 2015's been a long while coming

...and at times it has been like climbing a mountain road but finally I can say:

Welcome to the new Autumn Season of West Cork Photography Breaks!
Four weekends of residential photography workshops for beginners and improvers, in stunning West Cork.

It has been a while coming as there was a little piece in the jigsaw that I was still waiting to fit but finally I can announce that I am delighted to be running these Autumn workshops...

So what does that mean?
Firstly, it means that Olympus UK have been kind enough to agree in sponsoring me, by providing a range of the great little OM-D cameras for all the workshops.
Second it means that my shop window has enlarged from the small back-street outlet I had last season, to a High Street position, with a place in their Olympus Image Space website.
Thirdly it means, for you, my potential student guests, there will be cameras for you to try out, without any obligation.

How cool is that?!

Just think - You want to get into photography but you don't have a camera and don't know where to start? You have a camera but not sure it is really going to allow you to do what you want? You bought a big DSLR a few years back because you thought it was the thing to do but now resent having to carry around a heavy, bulky camera? Well then, this is THE break for you! All your questions could be answered during one of the weekends, AND you will be learning all about photography whilst enjoying a holiday in the South-West of Ireland. Now isn't that something you have been promising yourself for ages?
Do go and take a look at what is on offer via the West Cork Photography Breaks entry page. All the links and  information you need should be there, and if you can't find the answer, just get back to me and I will gladly respond to your query.

There will be a maximum of just four places on each of the four weekends, so don't hang back, they could all fill up in one booking!

Saturday 26th - Tuesday 29th September
Saturday 3rd - Tuesday 6th October
Saturday 10th - Tuesday 13th October
Saturday 17th - Tuesday 20th October 

The first and the last of these weekends will be completely dedicated to the Olympus OM-D.
If you already have an OM-D, and want to explore more of its capabilites, then this is the weekend for you too - just bring it along!

What's that? You have your own non-Olympus camera but still want to learn? No worries! The second and third weekends are open to all-comers, so whether it be a smart phone, point-and-shoot or DSLR, the principles of photography remain the same - and it is a fact you don't need fancy gear to achieve stunning results! It is how you use it, and my fellow tutors and I will do just that - guide you in the how. So there is a weekend suitable for everyone. All you need to do is decide which weekend and click the BOOK NOW button.

Hear from you soon!

(PS So now you may understand recent blogging silence - I've had this exciting development in progress, and now I've made it!!)

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Quality Assured


You probably won't believe the sweat and tears that have gone into me being allowed to publish the above logo on here, and also to be allowed to use said logo, elsewhere on anything to do with - 

West Cork Photography Breaks
(Just have a holding page for now, full website in progress!)

So drum roll and a woo-hoo...
I am delighted to announce that I have finally received notification that I am amongst the first to be awarded recognition within the new Fáilte Ireland Welcome Standard


Ok, so what does that mean?

The long and the short of it is that this homestay accommodation located on the Wild Atlantic Way and used in association with West Cork Photography Breaks has been checked by the Irish National Tourism Development Authority and I'm delighted to say that they deem it to be "Quality Assured". Not only does it mean I can use the little shamrock logo on all of my documentation and on the house itself, it also means that any potential guests/students have the reassurance that these photography breaks will offer a full Irish welcome and integration into West Cork life too.

This recognition allows West Cork Photography Breaks to be found on the Discover Ireland website (very soon), and will be listed under the B&B heading, providing special home-from-home accommodation coupled with photography tuition. Thus guests will gain the special valuable photography experience as well as an unforgettable Irish holiday experience in West Cork.

So now I have this (not so) little logo I can use, I can get on with completing the new West Cork Photography Breaks website and I will certainly be announcing that with a flourish!

In the meantime, if anyone is interested in reserving/booking a place or two (bring your partner/friend!) then it is already possible here

Dates are

Saturday 26th - Tuesday 29th September
Saturday 3rd - Tuesday 6th October
Saturday 10th - Tuesday 13th October
Saturday 17th - Tuesday 20th October
Fáilte Ireland

Fáilte Irelan
Fáilte IrelanF
Fáilte Ireland
Fáilte Ireland

Fáilte Ireland

Fáilte Ireland

Fáilte Ireland

Fáilte Ireland

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Mark Knopfler, Dublin 15.5.15

Every couple of years I look forward to going along to a concert by, who in my opinion, is one of the musical greats. Ex-Dire Straits front-man, Mark Knopfler is on tour again, and just for a change this year, we opted to see him at the 3 Arena in Dublin. There are those who, with just the mention of his name give a snigger and say 'I don't like Dire Straits'. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but to those I say, move on, take a listen to his music today. Whilst he still plays some of the greats from the DS days, he proves his status as a multi-talented musician with his latest music - a fantastic mix of rock blended with very traditional beautiful instrumental sounds and melodies, all expertly woven together with the life-observational lyrics of his songs.

Fiddles and flutes, uilleann pipes and double bass, keyboards and guitars, all have a place on the Mark Knopfler stage. This man knows his music, and has written for films and other iconic singers, including Tina Turner.

There are many guitars putting in an appearance over the course of the night including one which has become the most recognised of all, the Resonator style O, (shown above) and as seen on the Brothers in Arms album cover, released 30 years ago, almost to the day on 13th May 1985.

This is a man with his musicians, who together,  put on a performance that oozes passion for music. No need for a warm-up support act, they just come on stage and play and play, and for over two and a half hours non-stop. Fabulous!

This time, as my 'off-duty' camera, I was putting an Olympus OM-D E-M10 + 14-42mm kit lens through its paces, apart from the shot below which was on my old-going-into-retirement G12.

National Style O Resonator Guitars were made between 1930 and 1941. Nickel plated onto a brass base, Hawaiian-style scenes were sand blasted onto the polished body. It is understood that Marks particular guitar dates from 1937.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Lusitania Centenary Commemoration, Cobh

Young Irish seaman stands silently in front of the
Lusitania Memorial

At 2.12pm on 7th May 1915 the RMS Lusitana sank off the coast of Ireland, after being hit by a torpedo from a German submarine, with the loss of 1,198 lives. Many of the survivors were brought ashore to what was then called Queenstown.

On Thursday 7th May 2015 a special day of commemoration was held in the town - now called Cobh, with the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins attending a special Commemoration Ceremony, centered around the Lusitania Memorial, and remembering the tragic events of 100 years ago.

The morning began with a Commemoration Mass in St Colman's Cathedral, where the ladies of the Cobh Animation Team were on hand to welcome and guide the visitors into the cathedral. Many of those attending this special mass were relatives of those who were lost in the tragedy.

This was followed by the unveiling of glass headstones at the graves of the Lusitania victims.

Meanwhile, down on the promenade, preparations were under way for the start of the main commemoration ceremony.

Large crowds had gathered, and all opportunities were taken to find a vantage point, whilst awaiting the arrival of Irish President Michael D. Higgins.

Following the raising of the standard, the President walked the inspection of the Guard of Honour.

With this part of the ceremony concluded, the official party moved to the main stage on the promenade, where the President went on to make his speech

Speeches were also made by officials from both the Port of Cork and Cunard, followed by a hymn and at 2.12pm the time that the Lusitania was hit by the torpedo, the Cunard, Queen Victoria sounded her whistle. She was alongside at Cobh having brought around 100 relatives of Lusitania victims to this special commemoration event.

Following the minutes silence, attention was brought back to the Lusitania Memorial, where wreath laying took place.

During the wreath laying ceremony, the President clearly had to contain his emotions for a moment. With the main ceremony now over, it was time for meeting the press for interviews and chatting to the gathered crowd before being whisked away in his official car.


The Lusitania Memorial in Cobh, stands as a reminder to all those who lost their lives in this tragedy, and what was also a pivotal point of the First World War. With the loss of American lives, it was said to be the deciding factor for America to join the war.

As an aside to this whole event, I was contacted by my very first school friend, after having seen a couple of these images which I had posted on social media. She told me that her great grandfather, who came from North Wales, had been one of the fortunate ones to survive the sinking of the Lusitania. Story has it that he had tired of his merchant seaman role as a fireman at sea with Cunard, and went to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, only to die four months later at the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915.