Sunday, November 21, 2021

Autumn's Swan Song

Well, we've had another odd week (is there any other kind these days?)  It started well enough, with the arrival of a parcel from Vix containing "Slammerkin"- a recommended read, accompanied by a postcard featuring one of my favourite photos by Steve McCurry.

On the same day, Gareth discovered that the pond level had dropped dramatically.  He decided to monitor the situation for a couple of days, but upon further investigation, it was clear all was not well.  

Meanwhile, I was having my own problems, as my editing software was at best, exceptionally slow and at worst, unresponsive.  I was forced to seek help via an online chat.  When this failed to fully resolve matters, I agreed to allow the technical assistant to share my screen.  I still find this concept quite bizarre.  The issue was identified within the hour, but somehow, 3 hours later, Sandar, my virtual companion, was still in my screen, randomly asking me questions about the format I shoot in and my storage system, his cursor hovering over certain experimental photos of mine which perhaps would have benefitted from an explanation....(what's with the ear?)...

...and occasionally issuing me with instructions.  

I confess I reached a point where I thought that we would be trapped together in a virtual world forevermore.   He was oblivious when I did break off to make some tea and seemed happy beavering away in cyberspace.  But eventually my technical trauma came to an end.  But before I could fully relax, Gareth decided to tap on the patio doors and, under torch light (it was now dark), showed me a rather large toad, which seemed to  be resting contentedly on his hand.  On closer inspection, there was something very wrong about the toad's prone position and milky gaze.  Plus it wasn't just large, it was bloated and the stuff of nightmares.  No surprise that I needed an Advocaat to calm my nerves (well, it's nearly Christmas).  

The pond, it transpired, had been punctured by an unknown party.  The chief suspects are:-

1.  Next door's dog.  

Evidence:  Our neighbours had recently been working on their fencing and there was a stray tennis ball next to the pond.

2.  Heron.  

Evidence:  None needed.  Mr H is always in the suspect line up in these circumstances.

3.  Moles. 

Evidence:  We have periodically been plagued by moles.  We always elect to ignore them and they usually move on, but there are currently three mole hills triangulating one corner of the pond.  Could it be the result of over zealous digging?

The frogs and remaining toads were temporarily relocated while Gareth put down a new pond liner and re-filled the pond.  The plants and pondlife are now back in position.  Luckily we're not particularly overlooked in our garden.  If we were, I'm not sure what the neighbours would have made of a man, seemingly covered in mud, standing in and swearing at a hole in the ground at 1 am.

In other news, I was finally able to watch The Colour Room, a film directed by Claire McCarthy, whose credits include the mesmerising TV adaptation of The Luminaries.  

The Colour Room, starring Phoebe Dynevor, Matthew Goode and David Morrissey, charts the meteoric rise of ceramicist Clarice Cliff from factory floor girl to owner/artist.  

I was fortunate enough to do a stint as a filming assistant on this earlier in the year when the Black Country Living Museum was used as a location.  The film didn't disappoint.  

If anyone has any spare Bizarre range items lying around (now commanding prices upwards of £200 on Ebay), I'd be more than happy to take them off your hands.

The vibrant colours beloved by Cliff are evident all around us right now.  I'm estimating that we have perhaps one more week of falling leaves and Autumn colours before winter's shades of grey colour palette takes over.

The oak tree leaves - always the last to fall - are rapidly turning now.  They won't be long.

The ferns and bracken are enjoying a final flourish.

The trees golden tips are scorched orange and red now and the slightest whisper of wind will take them.

Seed heads are adopting their final poses.

But there are still pops of colour evident in the yellow lit gorse bushes.

All aboard the Autumn Express!  Here's a timely shot of a yellow diesel engine on the Severn Valley Railway passing through the autumn landscape captured on our walk yesterday.

This distant shot of a sailing yacht on Trimpley Reservoir taken through the trees from a nearby hillside was barely edited - just look at the colours in that landscape!

The journey home made for some challenging photography conditions.  These photos taken with my Nikon from the passenger seat of a moving car through a dirty windscreen, are my attempts to capture the fiery glow from last night's sunset, lighting up the trees.

This year's colour display has been late to arrive and all too fleeting, but so inspiring.  


  1. Your photos of Autumn's swan song are making my heart sing, Claire. Autumn - and to a lesser extent - Winter are my favourite seasons for nature photography.
    I definitely needed these slices of Autumnal splendour - I'm afraid I don't drink alcohol, so Advokaat is out of the question - after reading about your bloated toad ordeal and the scary cyber episode!
    How lovely of Vix to send you the Emma Donoghue book. I loved Room but still have to get my hands on this one.
    I love Clarice Cliff but obviously do not own any of her designs. The Colour Rooms sounds right up my street. How lucky you were to do a stint as a filming assistent on it. xxx

    1. Hi Ann, Thank you - so glad you appreciate the photos. The temperature has plummeted here now so I really do think we’re hurtling towards a bleak and wintry landscape. The Colour Room was a memorable experience - I hope you get to see it at some point. xxx

  2. Hello Claire, I completely agree with Ann, your autumn photography is simply SPLENDID! - the leaves mid-air, the magical Swallows and Amazons sailing dingy . There is something strangely comforting in the train shot , and the learner driver one. I imagine the travelers returning home for a hot drink or bowl of chilli con carne.

    Very kind of Vix to send you that parcel of goodies. I too thought 'Room' was amazing, but fear my nerves could not take another Donoghue book!

    How fab that Clarice Cliff started as a factory floor girl and that you got to assist with the film. I have never owned any Clarice Cliff, but I do remember often seeing it (for a good sum) in the Brighton fleamarkets.

    I'm sorry, but I had to laugh at the bloated toad story and your Al digging away until one in the morning... it's all a bit League of Gentleman really :0 ;) :0 :)

    Hope you have a wonderful week. Lulu xXx

    1. Hi Lulu, Thank you! I love The League of Gentlemen and yes, you’re quite right, the toad situation did have shades of that series, thankfully without the nudity and dodgy hair pieces! xxx


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