Croatia – Dubrovnik

We’ve had 3 attempts now at getting to Dubrovnik. The first was a couple of years ago aboard a ship that couldn’t get into port because of a bad storm, the second was a hotel we wanted to stay at that didn’t have a room at the time we wanted to go and this was the third. You can understand some trepidation considering the past failures. However, no such troubles need have concerned us. The flight went well, the transfer was smooth and efficient and we were on board the CroisiEurope ship – La Belle de L’Adriatique by early afternoon. A pretty ship with only 200 passenger capacity.Out of the 180 aboard, there were probably 8 Brits, 4 Kiwis, half a dozen Swiss and a couple of Spaniards, the balance being French. Our transfer from the airport was with 4 other Brits, so we managed to get a table together which we great.

We were overnight in Dubrovnik and had the following day to look around so we took a bus into the old town and went around the city walls and had lunch in a small cafe just inside the walls. This was followed by an attempt to get up the cable car to get some panoramic shots from the top. Owing to an impending storm, the cable car had been stopped but taxis were happily taking folk up to the top. When we got to the top it was drizzly, damp and windy and there was a lot of haze, which we weren’t expecting. We left two young Norwegians (who we’d travelled in the taxi with) to have lunch at the top and we got another taxi down with two other young folk from London. The weather was decidedly iffy by then so we were pleased to get back to the ship for wine o’clock.



“Let’s go to Haworth – we’ve not been there before” – OK, I reply, we can see the little cobble streets, the Bronte Falls, Top Withens and Hardcastle Crags. So that’s the plan. We settled for a small hotel in the centre of Haworth called The Old Registry and manage to book the last room. A small room with a lovely view of the hills in the distance through a tilting skylight window.

A pleasant drive later we start to notice a lot of cars on the way into Haworth and crawling traffic. Something must be on this week-end we think. It was – we must have been the only people in Yorkshire not to realise that we’d booked on the Haworth ’40’s weekend, when all we wanted was a quiet time. Still, it gave Sue an idea of what the Woodhall Spa event was like that I try to get to. So we took some photos, (I managed one of my glamourous assistant dancing along to a lady singing ’40’s ditties), had a stroll and ate in a local restaurant. The following day we went up to Bronte Falls or more precisely Bronte Dribbles and then went on to Hardcastle Crags. The weather there was lovely and we had a strenuous walk around the place before walking back to eat at the hotel. Joe, our receptionist, bartender, waiter and purveyor of local knowledge was excellent – thanks Joe.

The next morning, we went to get some cash from the local hole in the wall only to find out that the ONLY hole in the wall in Haworth had run out of cash over the weekend. As most of the shops in Haworth were shut, having either made a shedload of cash over the weekend or being too tired, we decided to take a slow drive home. Nice place. Here’s some images :-

Butterfly World

Following on from our Birds of Prey experience, Pete and I had organised a trip to Butterfly World at Stockton-on-Tees. I’d not been in one before and had heard all about humidity but wasn’t prepared for it. I misted up, the camera misted up and so did the Fuji 80mm macro lens that I’d hired especially for the day. After about 20 minutes when we were acclimatised, we had a good search around. Search is probably the wrong word, it was wall to wall butterflies of every size and colour. We had both seen an extremely large pale blue butterfly but it eluded us for the whole of the trip, save for one point when it perched on a leaf with wings folded. Here are a few images of the day.

Thorpe Perrow Birds of Prey

My buddy Pete Stockton and I decided to take a Birds of Prey experience at Thorpe Perrow arboretum. It was the first one they’d done specifically for photographers. It was a 4 hour event with lunch provided but Ollie, who was handling the birds, overran the programme to give extra bird time for us all. Some of the displays in the morning were static/short flight, carried out in the aviary area. These were for a variety of species of owl. The next display was out in the woods and we then adjourned for lunch. A hawk walk followed lunch and then a number of different hawk/falcons, finishing off in a large field with a falcon catching bait on the fly. Flying in the open field was a lot better for photography because the aviary background is quite distracting.

We’d do it again – Thorpe Perrow were keen to have feedback on their initial photography day and I’m sure the next one will be even better. An enjoyable day with a good photographer buddy.

Madeira 2018

It’s a while since we went to Madeira but we chose a trip for Sue’s birthday and it was a pleasant change from freezing weather at home. We had all sorts of flowers coming into bloom and could have done with a trip up into the forest and some gardens but it was a chill type of holiday rather than action. We’d decided that although we liked the previous places we’ve stayed at, we’d like to try the Hotel Porto Santa Maria on the seafront at the old end of Funchal town – what a lovely place, great facilities, better staff and we had a room away from any noise. No jeep safaris for me this time, just getting to walk again after another foot problem so a toddle into the town to the cruise terminal and back was about it. We saw that the Golden Gate Grand Cafe had re-opened again (last July apparently) and that was a pleasant surprise – its been well refurbished. Gives a nice feel to the centre of Funchal again – it was decidedly run down without it.

I was pleased to see that Juan Caldarado and his band are still going strong, they were also at our hotel once evening as well.

Next time we go, hopefully we’ll catch the flower festival which is scheduled to run late April/Early May. Here’s a few pictures – birthday girl got some great flowers organised by the hotel and also a yummy birthday cake.

Hull Raceway

I needed some action shots for a club competition so asked the guys at Hull Raceway if I could pop down and take some pictures. This would be a test of my panning, focussing and lowlight camera skills. For the technically minded, I found myself in a variety of lighting levels, ranging from ISO 2500 (using the 56mm f1.2 Fujinon) and ISO12800 (using the 50-140 f2.8 on my Fuji X-T2.

The guys were really helpful and there was non-stop action all the time that I was there. Here are a few of the images I took – comments welcome!


Natasha J Bella

“How do you fancy a good day out doing some studio photography”, said Paul. “Sounds good to me I said”.

Well it was. I went to Natasha J Bella‘s studio with my f4 Photographic Group chum, Paul Lazenby and we had an extremely entertaining and rewarding day out, photographing a very attractive and professional Natasha in her own studio. Lots of clothes changes, great make up and a choice of shooting backgrounds.

I suffered a little with my RAW files in what has been a well documented phenomenon the internet. The images on the computer screen when I downloaded the RAW files, were significantly darker than those on the screen whilst I was shooting, so I had a fair amount of work to do to pull them back in shape. I’m happy with the results but better RAW files would have made them even more rewarding. Need to go again I think.


Christmas 2017

We decided to try somewhere new this year for Christmas. Grasmere was good for 3 years but a few niggles persuaded us, together with our friends Martin & Maxine Shelmerdine, to look for another venue. We had not looked at Bowness seriously until we visited there last year whilst “out and about” and Sue liked the looks of The Belsfield Hotel, just in front of the pier. Our friends decided to try it out earlier in the year and we booked following their trip.

It’s a good hotel, the staff are helpful and pleasant, the restaurant was very well decorated and presented for the break and the food, barring one not so good main course, was lovely. The restaurant overlooks the lake with a large double fronted window – great in summer when it’s light. We were on a wing adjacent to reception and the corridor leading to the rooms would have been well equipped to store frozen food – the reason apparently because some guests had said that the rooms were too hot. This would only have been of benefit if said guests had left their doors open – still, never mind. There’s a pretty library with comfy chairs for afternoon tea and to enjoy a pre-dinner drink.

We didn’t do much the first day – the weather wasn’t very kind. Christmas Day was taken up with presents, socialising and food, with a surprise visit from Santa(!). On Boxing Day there was a boat trip around the lake planned. This followed a walk around the town and lunch. The weather stayed mainly dry but was a bit drizzly so had to pop in and out of the boat for photo opportunities – there weren’t many.

The last day we went for a walk around Rydal Water and then went up to Tarn Hows for a stroll round there – lots of sunshine. I think we’ll do it again.




f4 Photographic Group – Annual Trip

My fellow f4 chums and I had arranged to go to Killarney this year for our annual trip. Blue skies, an Indian Summer and Guinness were on the cards. A fly in the ointment called Storm Brian decided to intervene and we got one out of the three – Guinness. It was blowing a gale and we had rain – one day was decidedly bad but we certainly had rain in small quantities the rest of the time as well. Fortunately we had decided upon a variety of places to photograph, some inside, notable Muckross Abbey and Killarney Cathedral (which was beautiful).

We were also told where we could find some stags and although the main rut was over, the stags were still bellowing at each other from within their newly acquired harems. We also were looking forward to Ladies View – a well known and extremely picturesque place – but not when we went, there was a lot of mist and rain so we had a cuppa at the local cafe instead.

We had hoped to take some images at Ross Castle but there’s a photography ban so that was an epic fail as well. However, Torc waterfall provided one or two decent shots and as there had been a lot of water we got some good images – my favourite was of a single big rock at the foot of the falls with water swirling around it.

Our last day was blustery and rainy so we arranged to go to Crag Cave, just north of Killarney and we found the folk there to be extremely welcoming and helpful and we managed to have our best session of the break there, taking lots of long exposure shots underground in the cave. Excellent cafe and gift shop there too. If you’re around the Killarney area, it’s well worth the visit. After Crag Cave we went to Blennerville to see the windmill and then on to Fenit Bay to see the lighthouse. funny – it was almost too windy to get out the car for the windmill and the spray at Fenit Bay almost obscured the lighthouse. Sometimes the spray was going completely over the lighthouse but needless to say I missed that shot.

Still, all in all, the 8 of us who went had a terrific break and despite the weather a good time was had by all.



This will be a short page – by now, full of cold so Sue went out with her phone and came back with pics. She had a good walk around Newport and said I’d have liked it. There – told you it was short. Image of lighthouse with what is a very large bridge in the background but unfortunately it was that foggy you couldn’t see anything. Image 2 was a home for aged men which she kindly offered to send me to if I didn’t start feeling better soon….