Friday, November 24, 2023

Autumn Comes

It's been a turbulent few weeks in every respect.  Autumn made its dramatic entrance with Storm Ciaran, which coincided with and compromised our mini break to Exeter.  It feels like much of life has been viewed through a pane of glass as a result.  Here you can see the storm clouds gathering on our journey down the M5.

 Our view upon arrival.  It didn't improve during our 48 hours in this small historic city.

I don't feel we are equipped as a result, to give an accurate appraisal of the city.  My biggest takeaways?  

1.  It's steeped in history.  Just opposite our apartment was the Dissenters' Graveyard, a plot of land collectively purchased by those who refused to adopt the Church of England faith.  During the Georgian and early Victorian period, Exeter underwent major social, economic and political upheaval and members of the dissenting community from the three Presbyterians Meeting Houses (Bow, Mint and George's - now a Wetherspoons) were buried here between 1748 and 1854.

Exeter Cathedral; an Anglican cathedral completed circa 1400.  We didn't visit on this occasion.  We were limited for time for one.  But we've also been spoiled by free entries with voluntary donations, (which we always opt to leave) at St David's, Liverpool and Chester recently and so balked at the £7.50 per person admission fee.  

The Norman, Rougemont Castle was built on a knoll known as red hill or rouge mont in Norman French, because of its red, volcanic rock.  This Norman three storey gatehouse's arched entrance shows evidence of Saxon workmanship and is therefore the oldest non-ecclesiastical Norman arch in existence.

2.  An iconic mural.  The paint you see is the result of vandalism, but as the building is owned by retailer Urban Outfitters, it hasn't been cleaned yet and the company is declining to comment.

The chiselled mural was created in 1991.  Members of the public were asked to send in photos which would serve as inspiration for the mural.  One local woman, Hollie-Jay Storer, sent in several of herself, one of which was selected for the final piece.

3.  Some rather good charity shops.  I picked up this book to add to my growing collection.  

4.  Character pubs and good beer; plenty of options for shelter from the storm.

5.  Amazing Wetherspoons!  First up, George's Meeting House, a former chapel connected to the aforementioned Dissenters' graveyard...

....and The Imperial.  Previously the Imperial Hotel, from 1923 until 1994, this had been converted from Elmfield House, built in 1810 for the County Surveyor James Green. 

We dined here, in the ballroom, which was intended as a replica of Buckingham Palace... that we could enjoy the view of the jaw dropping orangery, added by Dr William Buller Henderson, who purchased the property in 1897.

After a couple of stormy days, we were excited to meet up with our friends, Neil and Laura, for an overnighter in Cornwall.  Remnants of the storm continued to circle and we again took refuge from horizonal rain and road spray; this time in Jamaica Inn.  You can just make out the A38 in the distance.  I don't think I've ever visited this legendary place in anything other than perfectly imperfect weather conditions.

Eventually the storm retreated and relative calm was restored, although the waves were still choppy at Carlyon Bay.  The sea, the sea!  

Charlestown looked as picturesque as ever, but Poldark was nowhere to be seen.  We enjoyed great food, company and cocktails in this atmospheric fishing village and occasional film set.  No photos, sadly, as we were too busy scoffing and chatting! 

After 24 hours in Cornwall, it was back up the M5, homeward bound...and more windscreen photos of interesting cloud formations... 

...and fading light. 

Ah, seasons change with the scenery...

Weaving time in a tapestry

Won't you stop and remember me

At any convenient time?

The Simon & Garfunkel lyrics have been playing around in my mind since our return, for obvious reasons.  Our Autumn colours are more muted than those of our American cousins, but they are beautiful nonetheless.

 The leaves are falling in earnest now.  I had to stop and jump out of the car to capture this stunning spectacle in Low Town, Bridgnorth the other day.

Oh and check out this unique little fungus with its bendy stalk, growing in our garden.

Autumn always seems to me to be a time of reflection and I've been busy setting up a little home studio and working on my portraiture, recording those around me, in the hope of getting some future bookings.  I have plans (watch this space), but for now, I'll leave you with a selection of very simple, low key portraits of recent willing victims.  

Gareth, the Skater Boi

Dawn, feeling way more comfortable with a glass in her hand

Barry, my father-in-law, gurning at the camera




Take care and stay warm and dry!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

The title of this blog is taken from the David Bowie album "Pinups" and regular readers may recall me mentioning an alternative wedding shoot I put together earlier this year, inspired by 70s - more Aladdin Sane era - Bowie.  Think magenta, teal, metallic, androgyny, cosmos. I shared some behind the scenes photos from the day here:  Winter Peach Photography: Coronation? What Coronation?

Well finally, some 7 months later, I can now share with you some photos and stories from that day.  

A little background.  We had to postpone twice due to sub zero temperatures and models dropping out.  We eventually went ahead on King George's Coronation Day back in May.  Incidentally, a previous shoot of mine, inspired by the TV series Stranger Things, took place on the day of the Queen's funeral.  On May 6th the weather forecast was abysmal but all suppliers were on the same page and the "now or never" momentum kicked in.

We met at the handsome Georgian Firs Wedding Venue in Worcestershire for bridal (and "groomal?") preps courtesy of FinnElla Beauty (Make Up) and Dionne's Bridal Hair.

Both wore make up.  Our female model's hair was slicked back for a more androgynous look.  She also had two outfits to wear, both with a distinctly 70s vibe.  For the ceremony she wore a sparkly mini dress with balloon sleeves (very Studio 54 era Cher), accessorized with a velvet peony choker hand made by Present Perfect Creations and a single earring by London jeweller Catherine Marche.  I felt that one statement earring as opposed to two, better suited the futuristic boundary-pushing element of our theme.  

Our groom gamely agreed to don a diaphanous, cut to the waist, floor length collared jacket over a bodice and wide legged trousers.  All outfits were supplied by Velvet Birdcage, apart from our male model's trousers which I had brought to spare his modesty. He also wore a bejewelled necklace matching our bride's earring.

Eventually, buoyed up by cake and coffee and during a brief respite from heavy rain to what I would call "driving drizzle" we went for it.

White heat from the lightning bolts!  Forgive me, but I just had to do an Ashes to Ashes edit on this one!

The ceremony, created by Jules (Treasured Words Celebrant), included the making and releasing of wishes.

Said wishes were later safely retrieved from a nearby tree.

The bride's wedding ring - a gorgeous heart shaped pink sapphire!

Soon it was time for some smoke and I was grateful that Nat, the Venue Manager was pretty adept at setting off smoke bombs and artfully created the requisite otherworldly pink mist.

I loved the dried flower bouquet created by our florist Muck Home & Floral Design.

Sealed with a kiss!

Phew!  After all that excitement, it was time for a drink in the barn.  As an outdoor wedding venue, the cute little tin barn is perfect for rustic, festival style weddings.  At the time, the real bar was still being fitted out, so we created our own and employed our very own mannequin (christened Ziggy back when they first came into our lives as a show prop - and yes if Ziggy could speak "they" would be the chosen pronoun).  

Ziggy is the androgynous creation of our friend, Yvette, a local artist otherwise known as Creative Curiosities.  We already own Ziggy's cousin, the impressive illustrated man; a masterpiece of a sharpie and decoupage decorated life size mannequin...but he's not so easy to transport.

Perhaps apt for someone standing behind a bar, Ziggy is actually legless.  They are mounted on a stand.  They might not be for everyone, but we were thrilled when Yvette gifted them to us.  They're now standing in our fireplace at home.
So back to the wedding breakfast...and we had a canine companion in the pocket size shape of Dinky, the Pomeranian (Amy, our wedding cake maker's pooch) pictured here in his Fluffy Tailers' space age harness.  

Did someone mention cake?  The brief for the cake was futuristic.  I think Amy Baker's Cakes nailed it!

The tablescape was scaled down on the day (a long story), but this small, but perfectly formed magenta creation came courtesy of Aphrodite Events. 

Those cake crumbs get everywhere!

Dinky the show stealer.

Soon it was time to head back outside for some portraits...

The keepsake bouquet above (yes we had two!) was made of felt and created by Boom Bridal.  It deserves a close-up because Laura's first question to me upon joining the team was "Can I include lightning bolts?" Music to my ears. 

The pesky rain was never far away... eventually, we headed back to the house and it was all change.  Back to domesticity, dog walking and showing a glimpse of Niamh's gorgeous embroidered leather jacket.  It was most unfortunate that this stunning jacket didn't get more exposure.  Rain definitely impacted the shoot and the sleeves of the dress were too beautiful to cover up.  I took pity on our male model and he was permitted to change back into his civvies.

Finally, some low key "rock-star-at-home" photos.

Shortly afterwards, this shoot was picked up by Your West Midlands Wedding magazine and finally made it into the October/November edition.  You can read my brief editorial and see their feature here:-

Thanks for reading!


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