Monday, May 10, 2021

Eyes on the Prize

 Early May marked a return to ridiculously unpredictable weather and also the resurgence of ocular issues for me.

I had a pretty scary experience early in the year in the midst of the pandemic and was forced to come out of hiding and visit an Optician to diagnose the problem.  Being so passionate about photography, the thought of anything threatening my eyesight is truly terrifying.

This time, the symptoms were in my left eye and slightly different - odd episodes of shaky vision and flashes in my peripheral vision.  For a raging hypochondriac like me, my mind went into a spiral.  So, for the second time this year, I visited the Optician and had my pupils dilated.  Feeling like I'd had way too many espressos and closely resembling an alien, my eyes were thoroughly checked.  The optic nerves were examined and I had scans on my retinas.  The issues were the same as before - post vitreous detachment.  This basically means that the jelly comes away from the eyeball, tugging slightly on the retina.  This can interfere with light cells and cause flashes and floaters.  It can take months to settle.  My vision isn't impaired; it's just annoying.  This time, the jelly had detached quite cleanly and remains sitting on the surface, doing what jelly does best.  This explained the occasional wobble.  Despite all this, I was told that my eyes are good and I know the signs to look out for, should my retinas decide to detach themselves, which can happen on rare occasions.  

Anyhoo, I have a proper eye test this week, as I'm getting a bit squinty.  My prescription has definitely changed.  After all the trauma, I'm going to treat myself to some stylish frames.  So who should I channel?  Kylie Minogue?  (she designed some frames for Specsavers).  Dame Edna?  Whichever frames I opt for, I can guarantee one thing.  I will spend at least one month of the year looking for the damn things.

For the last few days, we have been taking therapeutic evening walks.  The fields around Highgate Common are bright yellow again.

The spring lambs are out in force.

We were also thrilled to see a number of hares gathering in one corner of a field.  They were so quick and from a distance, it was difficult to tell whether they were hares or rabbits, but I decided to linger for a while and sure enough, a fine example of that most elusive and magical of creatures leapt out of a hedge just metres away from me, before running off down a furrow in the field.  I had a clunky old Tamron zoom lens with me, which is difficult to focus on a moving subject in manual and even worse on Auto.  By the time the Auto setting has figured out what the hell is going on, your target has moved again!  So, manual focus is has to be.  Sadly, in the fleeting seconds the young hare was in my sight, this was the best I could get.  At least you can see his ears.  Fear not, I shall return!

Even though the high rise flats of Brierley Hill are still just visible on the horizon from any of the surrounding lanes, this place is so peaceful and rural.  Sheer bliss.  

Thursday's voting almost didn't happen, due to Dudley Council changing their Covid rules to allow only one voter at a time at the voting booth - even though there were partitions in place and room for four!  We were all wearing masks and honestly, how long does it take to put an X in a box (well 3 on this occasion)?  Nonetheless rules are rules and consequently, the queues were crazy.  Many people surrendered their democratic rights simply because they had to get to work or pick up their children from school.  Still, I got my documentary photo of pandemic voting and all its associated signage.

On Saturday night, we enjoyed another programme in the BBC2 series A Life in Pictures.  Anyone with even a passing interest in photography or the cult of celebrity will enjoy this portrayal of famous lives revealed in 10 defining moments caught on camera.  So far, the series has featured Tupac, Elizabeth Taylor and in the latest episode, Muhammed Ali, which was fascinating.  

Sunday marked a day of exploration, as we headed for the Shropshire hills of Church Stretton and Carding Mill Valley.  The highlight of the day was an historic garden encompassing Rectory Wood.  The Rector of Church Stretton in 1749 - Professor John Mainwaring - a theologian and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, just so happened to be good friends with one Lancelot "Capability" Brown.  Mainwaring designed and laid out the landscaped gardens under the watchful and expert eye of his friend.

We stumbled across this stunning woodland glade on our way back from Carding Mill Valley when we decided to take a different path back to town.  This yew ringed pool with its dam, cascade and Gothic folly overlooked by beech trees was just stunning.  This was one of the earliest features and allegedly, these trees were planted at this time.  I quite expected to see water nymphs bathing here.  It was magical.

As if this wasn't mystical enough, the ancient tree spirits were also in evidence, keeping watch over the footpath.  

The journey home took us past another favourite landmark of mine.  It's certainly historic, but not in any conventional sense.  Still, I think it's a thing of beauty and I can never resist parking up to photograph it whenever we pass.  That said, I'm frustrated that I know very little about the building's past or its current ownership status.  I decided to put out a call on Twitter and my post was shared and shared again and I think I might be on the cusp of speaking to the owner, so fingers crossed, images and info will follow.

I really have to go now, as Lotte the cat has somehow managed to ascend the wisteria growing up the side of the house, reaching guttering level.  She's now looking somewhat confused.  What a way to sign off a post!  Have a good week!


  1. Hello Claire, how funny, I hoped Lotte cat worked out how to get back down again! My dad was a fireman for most of his working life and he says you would not believe the amount of calls they had about cats stuck up trees :0 :) The woodland glade is truly magical. Monsieur and I went on a hot date to our local polling office. I am long due an eye test. Have you considered some Deidre Barlow / Raschid glasses? Lulu x

    1. Hi Lulu, Funnily enough, there is a hint of Deidre Barlow about some of the supposedly trendy glasses available online, so I won't rule it out! :-) I can't watch Lotte when she climbs the wisteria. The branches are quite giving, but she must be more sure footed than I give her credit for. x Claire



It's been a curious week of unexpected connections, conversations, sights and sounds, underpinned in some shape or form by panic. I was ...