Friday, January 21, 2022

Seeing Stars

After last Friday's Birthday bomshell - our son testing positive for Covid, daily testing has delivered nothing but negative tests for Gareth and I, which is astonishing considering how transmissible Omicron is.  Conversely, friends of ours - a household of four - have all tested positive this week within a 48 hour period.  Go figure!

We haven't ventured far this week.  We delivered an order to a customer in Telford.  Occasionally we like to deliver to local customers.  We take pleasure in the inevitable resulting messages of surprise from bemused customers who had only placed their orders a matter of hours earlier.  However, after answering other queries and dealing with the other day's orders, a planned venture to Attingham for Gareth's birthday (we were born 5 days apart) was abandoned as we simply ran out of day!

Most mornings have offered up frost-lustred landscapes, followed by some watery late afternoon sunsets; none as rich in colour as last week's sunset on Kinver Edge. Winter Peach Photography: January Made Me Shiver 

Speaking of which, when we were there last week, we spotted another photographer in the distance, pointing his camera in our direction.  We nodded in greeting as we passed each other in that anorak way that people with shared interests do and continued on our way.  A few days later, I received a private message on Instagram "Hi, Is this you?" with an accompanying photo of me in my bobble hat and sheepskin coat, silhouetted against that Kinver Edge sunset.  It turns out we were already following each other on Instagram - the penny must have dropped for him.  Small world!  Luke's promised to share them with me when he's finished editing his other photos.

Our regular haunt, the Enville Estate, looks even more beautiful this week in mid winter.  Temple Pool, once a boating playground of the well heeled and well connected, was still partially frozen when we visited, much to the frustration of the resident grey heron (not in shot).  

The Sheepwalks, an idyllic area of steep hillsides...

...panoramic views and timeless-away-from-it-all loveliness, lived up to its name.  This woolly one was reflected in a natural pond on the hillside...

....and here's the aforementioned Kinver Edge, visible from the ridge of the Sheepwalks, floating in the mist in the distance.

On the return leg of our walk, we passed the old cold bath house (circa 1790 and part of Enville Estate's old pleasure gardens)...

...and spotted something sticking out of the boggy area surrounding the stream.  Considering it a danger to wildlife, we retrieved the offending item and discovered that it was an old enamel jug.  Now it may look to the untrained eye, that it's well past its use by date, but there was something about the patina and the arrangement of holes that appealed to us.  

I've cleaned it up as best I can and stuck a spider plant in it.  They're reproducing at a rate of knots and the holes will give the spiderlings plenty of room to branch out.

It may not be to everyone's taste, but it's certainly interesting from every angle.

Fashion-wise, recent weeks have been all about knits and patterns - not knitting patterns, but patterns of the botanical, spots and stars in your eyes kind.  It's curious that when spring's big fashion trend is colourblocking, I decide to embrace patterns, but then I don't tend to follow trends.  Instead, I keep a curious eye on them and only adopt them if I decide I like them.

First, the knit.  This cardigan reminded me of the cardigan worn by MM in her last ever photo shoot with photographer George Barris.  A couple of weeks ago, I did a little Marilyn inspired shoot, in an attempt to capture the lovely soft golden light of the original photos and showcase my thrifty find.  I do think this photograph would be greatly improved if it had been taken on the beach in Santa Monica, California, (not to mention if I looked anything like MM), but you can't have everything.

An Instagram follower and talented photographer, Diane Barlee, commented that it reminded her of the Cowichan sweaters from her Canadian roots.  For any interested parties, I'm sharing the link Diane sent me to an article devoted to the iconic garment.  Scroll down to the end for another pic of Marilyn in her Cowichan cardigan and "The Dude" from the excellent film The Big Lebowski rocking his.  Sadly mine is a High Street version, but being 50% wool, is very warm and toasty (and prone to pilling).  However, a real one has been added to my growing wish list.

It's cold outside | Wall Street International Magazine (

With all of this fashion talk, you may be feeling dazed and confused.  But if you're not seeing spots yet, you soon will be.  At this time of year, naked branches, dead foliage and seed heads are particularly architectural and throw wonderful shapes in winter's monochrome landscape.  

Nature's spots came in the form of this macro shot of these metallic looking seed heads (no camera trickery, just natural sunlight on paper thin foliage).  

A short time later, I had the brilliant idea to combine spots with florals!  Now I'm not claiming ownership of the concept of combining patterns, but I'm starting to wonder if, rather than slavishly following the ideas of some anonymous senior fashion editor, I'm sometimes subliminally influenced by nature.  The resulting outfit (a Kharibu dress (thanks for the link Vix) and a spotted thermal jumper  ebay purchase) work quite well I think and have reminded me how much I love monochrome.  Thank you Mother Nature!

For extra warmth, I found a tank top - ahem, apologies, that's way too 1980s - a sleeveless knitted vest, which works OK.

I haven't attempted any astrophotography recently, but I did capture the recent waxing crescent moon, photographed here from the street outside (you'll have to trust me on this one) using a cheap and cheerful (and clunky) 70-200 mm Tamron lens.  I really should do more of this. 

I love the night sky and when I spotted this starry Linea sweater in a charity shop, I had in mind a partner in crime for it, namely this vintage Alexon black and red check skirt with iridescent spots (which I thought was part punk/part skater girl).  

So, here we are again Friday.  We've finally got around to setting up our turntable (one speaker just visible in the photo above), after a campaign launched by the teen in the house.  We came along a little after the vinyl generation and in my childhood, I was mostly wired for sound courtesy of my Sony Walkman.  Later, my cassette collection gave way to cds and pretty soon, the idea of replacing my collection with vinyl was way too daunting, not to mention expensive.  However, we've done it and I have to say, the sound is incredible.  Our vinyl collection however, is virtually non-existent.  I have an old copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Gareth has a few stashed away somewhere.  But where to start?  Yet another excuse to trawl thrift stores and charity shops.  

Have a great weekend and please feel free to leave a comment, or a recommended album for my shopping list!



  1. we lately danced to harry belafonte´s first album...... vinyl and 50cent on a fleamarket :-D
    love your marilyn impersonation - and no, it not a far stretch! cool cardi btw..
    dress on sweater - although its not monocrome but black&white ;-D i like the pattern mixing of flowery and dots - and the red&black skirt is fabulous!!
    i have the idea that the jug was used in the bath house - imaging some blurry images of bathing beauties in thin white chemises...... its a very decorative housing for the spider plant.
    wonderful photos of the foggy landscape!!!
    as for covid - its a strange thing - glad you were negative in the end.
    stay warm, cosy and safe!! xxxx

    1. Thanks Beate. I think you’re right about the enamel jug. That’s the image I have in my head too! I will have to keep my eyes peeled for some Harry Belafonte! Very classy! xxx

  2. The Enville Estate looks utterly magical in your photos, I love that old bath house and the jug is stunning, what a find!
    Happy birthday, Gareth, another January birthday that has snuck past us due to usually being away.
    How exciting to be spotted by a fellow photographer. I can't wait to see his photos.
    The Kharibu dress is amazing on you and wintered up perfectly. Aren't they lovely & comfy? Your pattern mixing is sublime.
    We've got an obscene amount of vinyl, almost everything we've ever bought. The chazzas are wise to the value of most of the donations but there's always the odd bit that sneaks through. Car boots used to be the best place but I've not been to one in two years! xxx

    1. Thanks Vicky! We’ll have to take you to Enville in the summer - there’s a nice pub right next to it too. It’s one of my favourite places. I’m really pleased with the Kharibu dresses. I’ll definitely be wearing that one in particular on repeat. We have a long way to go with our vinyl collection, but it will be fun hunting them down. xxx

  3. I'm glad to hear both you and Gareth having been testing negative, and I do hope your son isn't being too sick!
    Magical photos, I particularly love the one of frosty Temple Pool and the timeless landscape with sheep reflection. How utterly delightful to be spotted by fellow photographer by the way!
    Love the MM impersonation, and both your Kharibu dress and the starry jumper paired with the black and red check skirt are fabulous.
    Lately, decent vinyl has been quite elusive in the charity shops, and it's been a while since we found anything. We've got quite the collection of jazz and big band, some of it inherited from my Dad, but apart from a handful of my old punk albums, and my beloved Smiths albums, unfortunately not much of my original collection remains. Happy hunting! xxx

    1. Caleb has been fine Ann, thanks for asking. His symptoms were like a heavy cold but really didn’t trouble him. There is something very magical about the Enville Estate - it’s always been a favourite place of ours. I think the hunt for vinyl will probably be quite addictive. We have found a couple today by the Stones and Kate Bush. Ooh The Smiths! Good call. That’s another band for my list! xxx

  4. Hello Claire, absolutely beautiful reflection photos. The enamel wear with spider plant is brilliant!!! Looks like a posh ceramic at a glance, but all the better for being a found item with a story to it. Love your fab Marylin knit and shoot. Your starry night sky top reminds me of one I had with solid glitter stars. I thought I was the lost member of The Smashing Pumpkins when I wore it ;)

    Audio Nerd alert!!!Some of my favourite albums on vinyl are ones where you can hear the actual space it was recorded in - in analogue of course. A lot of more recent bands record digitally, then bang it on an analogue format :0... bar the odd weird band like The White Stripes, who still do tape recordings, and you can hear people ringing the door bell.

    Some amazing vinyl listens - 'Electric Noise' by White Noise (featuring the amazing Delia Derbyshire). 'Gris Gris' by Dr John the Night Tripper. '666' by Aphrodite's Child. Any Neil Young (bar some dodgy 80s albums) recorded in a barn. New Orleans Funk. Anything by Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. Grace Jones and Kate Bush sound pretty awesome on vinyl too. Oooh, I could go on, but I won't :0 :0 :0 It upsets me too much. I used to have a massive record collection (including all the Smiths albums! and some pretty rare jazz) but sold them all. Biggest mistake ever :( xXx

  5. Hi Lulu, Lovely to hear from you...and thank you. Hope your revision has paid off. I love the White Stripes and am quite partial to some Billie Holiday and Dr John. Grace Jones is also growing on me (I couldn't bear her as a teen). Funnily enough, I picked up an old Kate Bush album at the weekend, which sounds great. I love her and was in my element, glass in hand, pouring over the album artwork and sleeve notes. I am a big fan of Matt Berry and read an interview in which he claims 1970s vinyl just sounds so much better. I don't think you're alone in selling off a vinyl collection, although the thought of replacing those rare gems doesn't bear thinking about! xx

    1. I love Matt Berry too! I agree, 1970s vinyl is the best x


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