Monday, 30 April 2012


Not more bl**dy tulips!!

That was David's reaction upon turning a corner in the Keukenhof Gardens (Holland) last week and finding yet another stunning display of colourful bulbs stretching into the distance.

The Spring Gardens are wonderful but the sheer scale of the place is slightly overwhelming and although we both love pretty spring flowers we were getting bored after 2 hours.   Photos really don't do justice to the gardens (or the bulb fields surrounding the gardens).   We decided that the best way to view this spectacle would be from the air - it would be an amazing sight from small plane or helicopter (perhaps there's an idea for a business there)?

Unfortunately we weren't able to see some of the indoor displays as they were being rebuilt.

The Gardens only open for 8 weeks each year and so get absolutely packed with visitors from around the world.  Too many people for my liking I'm afraid!

Here are a few pictures which give an idea:

You can see from this photo just how crowded some of the walkways were ... not my idea of fun really

I tried to get some close up photos - just in case I get the urge to try my hand at a 'still life'  :-)

Now by this stage I guess you'll all be in total sympathy with David and groaning ... not another bl**dy etc etc .. so I'll call a halt here - but there may be more tomorrow :-)

Saturday, 28 April 2012


That well known saying is very appropriate for the filthy weather we've had here in Kent for a couple of days (and forecast to last tomorrow also) .... wind, non-stop rain and low temperatures YUK!

I photographed this wonderful duck family at the Zoo in Antwerp a couple of days ago.   The ducklings were very tame and very, very cute.  Proud Mum and Dad were very happy for me to stop and talk to their little ones and Mum joined in the conversation quite noisily herself

Mum, Dad and a few of the ducklings

The little ones ...

The family wondered off, but Mum stayed behind to 'quack' a few jokes  .......  oh dear, sorry :-)

Right this was just a quick post as we're off to a birthday bash being held at the Hotel on the nearby Tankerton seafront.   We'd originally planned to walk there and back (only 15 mins walk each way) but the weather is so dreadful, I've volunteered to drive so David can enjoy a drink.   Fizzy water for me then :-(

Thursday, 26 April 2012

26/04: ANTWERP ZOO (and other bits)

Blogging took a bit of a back seat whilst I was busy with projects (arty and personal/family) but I hope to be posting regularly again now.  
To summarise the past few weeks, I've produced and displayed pictures in two local exhibitions but sadly I'm not going to be able to retire on my earnings from picture sales :-)  

We have been back to our holiday home on Fuerteventura where we enjoyed lovely warm weather and caught up with our friends out there.  It was carnival fortnight so lots going on each day and a brilliant Parade of floats and marching/drumming bands on the final Saturday afternoon/evening (which coincided with St Patricks Day so there were lots of leprechauns and green attire on display).    The carnival season always finishes with the 'Burning of the Sardine' parade on the  Sunday after the big parade.    A huge effigy of a sardine is wheeled through town followed by the townswomen all dressed in black (widows attire) and crying/lamenting.   The sardine and its entourage end up on the town beach early evening where the sardine is ceremoniously burned.  Then there is a fantastic firework display and everyone stands around saying ooooh  aaaaahhhh (as you do)!!    All this is done with a great deal of noise - they do love their drums and drumming bands on the island :-)   Although I have lots of photos from the Carnival, its a little late to post them now I think.

We've just returned from a mini break in Belgium and Holland.   Living on the Kent Coast means its a very easy journey for us to cross the Channel to France by Ferry - or train/tunnel as we did this time.  From France its easy to drive to Belgium/Holland.

 When my computer went horribly wrong a couple of months back it had to be almost rebuilt and although my data was backed up I seem to have mislaid some folders of reference photos taken over the years of meerkats, hoopoe birds, domestic dogs/cats etc.  I still have hundreds of photos but nothing really inspired me - I guess they're too 'familiar' as I've viewed them so many times.   So our trip to Belgium took in Antwerp Zoo which was a great place to visit.   It is situated in the centre of Antwerp next to the Railway Station  in beautiful mature parkland -  and I got lots of good ref. photos.      

Starting with a selection from the (very many) big cat photos I took.  I have a soft spot for these wonderful animals.

 The male lion barely moved from this spot, dozing with his back to the 'human' passers-by but he did briefly raise his head to look around so I got a couple of quick pics

The females were a little more obliging:

Yawning lioness

Just look at the intensity of the stare

I have more tiger photos than anything else - but I kept hoping one of them would actually go in for a swim.  Too cold maybe??

or just can't be bothered!



Drying off
Shoving Match!   This is obviously a game they play often but for a while there I fully expected the middle elephant to end up in the 'swimming pool' as the larger elephant was really pushing her around :-)

Viewers of a nervous disposition should look away now .......   this is a photo that went wrong when I was trying to get a shot of the armadillos who were racing round like maniacs.  Then I realised that Spring was definitely in the air and the male was trying to 'jump' his fast moving lady friend.    I'm no expert with the camera so shutter speeds were wrong but I thought it made a fun picture :-)

Enough animals for now ....  I have many more taken in the aquarium, aviary, monkey houses etc but don't want to bore you all.   Just a few more pics showing the beautiful grounds/gardens.  It is a very tranquil, well maintained park.

I wasn't allowed to spend too long in Antwerp once we left the zoo.  You may know that Antwerp is famed as the Diamond capital of the World with more than 80% of the world's rough diamonds passing through the district.   Hubby (and accountant) dragged me swiftly past the jewellery shops!! 

From Antwerp we visited/stayed at Dordrecht (Holland)  in a lovely waterside B&B - very quaint town with cobbled streets and lots of galleries/chocolate shops/restaurants and bars.

Yessterday we drove to Keukenhof gardens in Holland to see the displays of Spring bulbs/flowers (mostly tulips).    The anticipated bad weather held off till mid afternoon yesterday so we were very lucky there.

I'll post some photos in small batches over the next few days ...

Monday, 23 April 2012


OK - after weeks away from Blogging my first post is a complaint about the weather!!  I must be a True Brit!!

Hosepipe bans have been imposed on many parts of the UK and here in Kent we're told the ban will probably be in place all year.  So we decided not to grow as many vegetables as usual this year, and not to grow/plant bedding/border plants and hanging baskets/tubs.     It has done nothing but rain here for more than a week (with the odd thunderstorm/hailstorm thrown in for good measure!!

I've seen more rainbows this past week than I remember seeing in several years - yesterday:

photographed in our garden yesterday ... just look at the filthy colour of the sky!

and then hailstones yesterday - not a great pic but these are lumps of ice landing in the grass (which incidentally was mowed a week ago but is just loving all this 'wet stuff' and growing at a great rate of knots ..

anyway, I know I've been quiet on the Blog front for a while - we have been very busy with projects (arty and non-arty) but should be back to normal fairly soon.     Off to Belgium/Holland tomorrow so will catch up soon.