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Fargo Market, Coventry

Just off Sky Blue Way next to a street called Far Gosford, there is a trendy village called Fargo.  The area is an up and coming part of Coventry and it is the place where a craft market is held at the weekends.  I first heard about the FarGo market when I went along to meet my daughters there. 

Fargo Market, Coventry
What a cool robot!
Fargo Market, Coventry
The variety of stalls in Fargo Market.
Fargo Market, Coventry
Iconic design and colours.

My youngest daughter was helping her friend Gemma on a stall. Gemma is an excellent baker and she is the owner of Love Lane Brownies.  If you are a lover of brownies then I would recommend the blondie version, so a visit to her stall is a must.  The FarGo craft market is a busy friendly place and I took the opportunity to buy some of the produce there. My main purchase was a locally produced Gin from the Warwickshire Gin company.  I did not forget to buy my Love Lane Brownies although most of them had already been brought by an appreciative public.

Fargo Market, Coventry
There is some great street art at Fargo
Fargo Market, Coventry
Something for everyone

I enjoyed my visit to the FarGo market as there was much to see. The market is decorated by colourful graffiti from well known local artists and there is a rather cool looking robot ready to great you in the front yard.  There is a riot of colour on the walls which I have captured with my camera.  There is a pleasant atmosphere to the place and if you are looking for a different style of gift then the market will not disappoint.  If you are interested in craft markets and produce with some spare time on your hands then I do recommend FarGo market. Enjoy the photographs and hope to see you at there as well the next time I visit.

Fargo Market, Coventry
Market going well
Fargo Market, Coventry
The street art of Fargo
Fargo Market, Coventry
Lady Godiva rules
Fargo Market, Coventry
Love the colours on this car

If you want more information about FarGo market then just click away. If you like Brownies then visit Love Lane Brownies Instagram page @lovelanebrownies

National Memorial Arboretum

Instameets are friendly photographic get togethers where you meet like-minded people for a social chat and take pictures.  The meetings are also held at fascinating venues around the West Midlands.  My usual patch is IgersbirminghamUK or the Westmidlandsphotocollective. Both hold meetings at venues which provide a multitude of photographic opportunities.  Igers_staffordshire is a group that hold Instameets around the Lichfield area.  The venue for this meeting was the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  The Arboretum occupies a large swathe of land just North of Lichfield and is well signposted off the A38.  However, it is a place that I always pass by and think to myself that is somewhere to visit in the future.  When Igers_staffordshire advertised the event then I quickly signed up.  The meeting started in the car park which is one of the strategic places in the Arboretum.  Whilst entry to the site is free, car parking is strictly controlled and must be prebooked.  The entrance and the welcome buildings guide you through to the main body of the Arboretum.  I was greeted by the organisers and it is easy to work out who the photographers are as you will not miss the tripods, backpacks and cameras on display.  Once through the entrance we made our way to the most commanding monument which is the Armed Forces Memorial.  It is not difficult to miss as it sits as a raised structure with an attractive circle of trees.  We posed on the steps for the picture of the group and then started exploring.

National Memorial Arboretum
The inside of the Armed Forces Memorial

You find yourself pulled towards the Armed Forces Memorial, up the steps and into the inner parts.  It borrows heavily in architectural design from the Greeks and Romans.  It is impressive, and it was here that I met Kenneth who is a volunteer at the National Memorial Arboretum. We got talking about the Arboretum and Kenneth outlined some of the major features about the place. He showed me where a shaft of sunlight shines through the gaps in the southern walls onto the central bronze wreath on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month #Armistaceday. Kenneth does two days volunteering and is out in all weathers, greeting visitors. His welcoming smile and enthusiasm help visitors to get the most from their visit. Kenneth is one of many volunteers who I met during my time at the Arboretum. I explained to Kenneth about my ‘100strangers’ project and he agreed to being photographed. This picture shows him standing in the centre of the #ArmedForcesMemorial near the central wreath with the #cenotaph in the background.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CVqFBz6DwvR/
Kenneth, Volunteer

Next, I set off to visit the rest of the Arboretum.  There were several memorials that I passed along the way including those to the Iraq war and The Polish War memorial.   I did like the Irish Infantry Grove.  The paving stones are set out with a map of Ireland.  From there, I wandered into the trees and was taken with the numerous discs with messages on them.  There is so much to take in and this blog only touches the surface.  I posted several sets of pictures on Instagram.

National Memorial Arboretum
Looking through and remembering

The first is a set of lines and colours that made an impression on me. The #shotatdawn memorial by artist #AndyDeComyn was particularly moving.  Consisting of stakes in the ground representing the young men shot by firing squad.  There are several other memorials captured here.

My other reflection from my visit was the numerous Connections in the Arboretum and this is the link for this series of photographs including pictures with permission of soldiers remembering people behind the names. The sun and the rain connect with the memorials to enhance their stories.

It was a moving day out and I covered a fair amount of the Arboretum.  There is still much more to see.  These are the best of the pictures although there were many more to discover. Several of the memorials have been cleverly designed to catch the natural elements such as the sun and rain providing reflections and opportunities for carefully taken pictures that bring out the best in their design.

Finally a big thank you to @igers_staffordshire for organising this instameet. I also met such great fellow photographers.  Follow #igersstaffordshire_nma for all the pictures taken by the group on the day.

National Memorial Arboretum
A rainbow brings hope and joy
Burnham-on-Sea Lighthouse

The low lighthouse at Burnham on Sea stands alone on the beach just north of the town.  It is an imposing structure and commands the horizon and your attention.  It has 9 legs, a ladder to the door of house and is painted mainly white.  There are squares of black with a bright red vertical stripe at the front of the building.  The legs are metal sitting in the sand and the structure itself is wood.
We visited it late afternoon and the storm clouds were moving in and out with occasional flashes of blue sky.  The single structure is iconic and reminded me of Chesterton Windmill which commands your attention against a changing skyline.  Here are my photographs of the low lighthouse.  I have taken several pictures around it and then a deconstructed view of all the parts to it.

Burnham-on-Sea LightHouse
Overlooking Burnham-on-Sea
Burnham-on-Sea Lighthouse
Lighthouse deconstructed

The funny story about the lighthouse is that I spent a great deal of time taking pictures of the back of it looking out to see. I only discovered the red stripe when my photographic buddy pointed out that I needed to look at the front of the lighthouse. I think there is a photographic tip somewhere in the story!

Burnham-on-Sea Lighthouse
Burnham-on-Sea Lighthouse

If you are interested in reading more about the lighthouse then there are several articles on it. 
Lighthouses in Burnham on Sea

Please read about my photographic afternoon in Weston super Mare just up the coast

If you wish to see photographs of Chesterton Windmill then I have done several blogs about it
Chesterton Windmill Revisited
Chesterton Windmill

Cameras used with these pictures
Canon D5 with lenses 16-35 and 70-200mm
FujiFilm x100v

Burnham-on-Sea Lighthouse
Burnham-on-Sea Lighthouse

Coombe Abbey Lake

Coombe Abbey Country Park is to the east of Coventry and both the gardens and lake featuring designs by Capability Brown make this a must visit attraction. Even though this is on my doorstep, it is nearly 10 years since I lasted visited on the occasion of a wedding. The family decided this was the place to visit on a Saturday afternoon in December. I got my camera gear ready. I am now well practised at taking photographs under family pressure. Those lovely views by the lakes are only available for a few minutes as I am asked to hurry up and stay in touch with the family walk. In some ways that makes it fun as you have to get your settings right and take the picture quickly.

View of Coombe Abbey
View of Coombe Abbey from the top pool bridge

The park is picturesque and lends itself to photographs. The downside is that even on a late Sunday afternoon, there is a lot of people around. Making sure that they do not feature in the photographs is difficult as well. My tips are to look for different views of the well known pictures that are taken. Coombe Abbey Country Park is photographed so often that it is difficult to find that different view.

The endless lake of Coombe Abbey Country Park
The endless lake of Coombe Abbey Country Park
Paths through the woods
Paths through the woods

One tip is the timing. The family decided to visit after 2pm on a December afternoon. The weather was good and the sun was starting to come out. The Golden Hour beckoned. There were some delays along the way when we got there. The birds had to be fed by the grandchildren and other small holdups, such as splashing in every puddle that we saw, made the walk slow. In many ways that was an advantage as it gave an opportunity to take a few more pictures.

The Grandchildren posing for a picture
Entertaining the Grandchildren
Places to run
Places to run
Puddles to splash in
Puddles to splash in
Buildings to see at Coombe Abbey
Buildings to see at Coombe Abbey
Two swans in the top pool
Two swans in the top pool

Finally on the way back the sun started to set very low and it lit up the classic view of the Coombe Abbey Hotel from the footbridge that separates the main lake, Coombe Pool, and the smaller Top Pool. There is a lot more to see and when Covid-19 restrictions are finished then there will be a return visit to the park. Meanwhile enjoy the pictures!

Sunset at Coombe Abbey
Sunset at Coombe Abbey

Do you want to know more about Coombe Abbey Country Park? Then visit the Coventry City Council website which will get you started
Coombe Abbey Country Park

There is also the City of Coventry nearby if you want to make a weekend of a visit to the area with your camera
Send me to the City of Coventry


Hay Wood Adventure

Forestry England have a number of woodlands located across the West Midlands and my closest one, Hay Wood, is located near Baddesley Clinton. I have been a number of times and always found it a wonderful place to visit. It is best described as a peaceful ancient woodland site with a great diversity of wildlife. Usually I have walked around or cycled into the Wood via bike.

Hay Wood
A beautiful day in Hay Wood

When walking, I have usually stayed around the front part of the forest near to the road as it is a bit of a hike into the far end of the wood. This time I wanted to delve deeper into the wood and therefore walked up to he end of the central road and instead of going left or right at the end, heading into the deeps of the wood. It had been raining heavily the night before and I started to regret my decision as the going was very soft and wet. There were old tractor grooves which allowed you to walk on the ridge away from the water.

Hay Wood
Sunlight streams down

Deeper into the forrest the light became more interesting. The sun came out and there were small pockets of light that managed to get through the trees. I encountered a young conifer and it was bathed in light which made for a good photograph. The dying ferns had turned a yellow orange colour and added an interesting layer to the forrest floor. It appeared to be a carpet of colour.

Hay Wood
A new hope in the Forrest

It was very difficult moving through this part of the wood and after a while I made my way to the roads where it was obviously much easier to move around. I took a selection of pictures and they show the light and colour of the forest.

Hay wood
Sunlight above, water below

The web site encourages you to escape to Hay Wood for your next forest adventure. Whether walking or riding, Hay Wood is the perfect place to get away from it all and relax. I could not agree more.

Hay Wood
Paths in the Woodland
Hay Wood
Mos growing on logs of wood
Hay Wood
Hay Wood Colours
Knowle Park after the storms

The months of August are hot during the day and often very muggy at night. We have been through a spell of very hot weather and experienced some dramatic thunderstorms at night. Unfortunately I slept through the worse ones even though I had my camera set up to take some pictures. The next day I was up early and when I got to the park, I was not disappointed as there was a mist over the area. There were were also layers of colours present. What was remarkable was the continual change as the sun rose higher burning off the mist. The mist provides opportunities for rays of sunbreaking through the clouds to be highlighted. With my trusty iPhone I was able to take several photographs of the scene. These were immediately given some post processing via Snapspeed and then uploaded onto the BBC weather site. When I got back home all the pictures were run through Lightroom and then put up on Twitter and Instagram. I received a great deal of acclaim and lovely comments on the pictures and also featured no BBC Midlands weather.

Knowle Park
Knowle Park after the storms with a lone dog walker
Knowle Park after the storms
Magical mist, Sun and light
Knowle Park after the storms
The clouds were very dramatic
Knowle Park after the storms
This picture was shown on BBC Midlands weather
After the storm Knowle Park
This picture was popular on Instagram

As the University of Birmingham locked down so did Winterbourne house and gardens. There was still a small team of gardeners tendering the gardens during lockdown. As the restrictions eased, the gardens reopened to University staff on the 6th July. It is one of the perks of working at the University that you have free access to the Botanical gardens. I took the opportunity on a Friday afternoon to visit Winterbourne and it coincided with a break in the weather. Yes, the sun was seen in the sky! I brought along my macro lens and decided that it was going to be a close up day photographing the flowers and some of the friends that visit them as well.

A zoom of colour!
Nature’s helper
Prickly
Summer in full swing

I realise now that what I enjoy about garden photography is the symmetry of the flowers. Also I like the asymmetry that is overlayered on the symmetry. The colours and the flower arrangements right down to the petals play a part too.

Symmetry and colours
A busy bee
Lilies in the sunshine

Winterbourne has different areas to it and there is a brook at the bottom of the hill with an Japanese oriental garden. On the way down, there are many flower beds and open spaces. Towards the house there is the walled garden and glasshouses that have a large variety of interesting species.

Can you spot the spider?
Lovely colours
A play on light and colour

Why do I love Winterbourne so much? I think it is the range of plants that come from around the world. Part of my role at the University is Director of Global Engagement. The Winterbourne Gardens web site mentions that the plant collection is taken from countries such as China, North and South America and the Alpine areas of the world. Maybe this is why walking around the Botanical Gardens feels as if you are undertaking international travel in a short space of time and distance.

Temporary entrance with social distancing sign into the walled garden
The lime walk
Walkway through the garden
Symmetry in the onion vegetable patch

Finally, whilst I love taking pictures of the plants, I do not know many of their names. So if anyone is able to help so that I can name them correctly it would be very much appreciated 🙂

Winterbourne house

For the last few years I have viewed pictures of poppy fields with a mixture of fascination and some jealousy.  I always wished that I could take some pictures of these lovely wild flowers.  Many of these fields seem to be around the Worcester and Hereford area of the West Midlands.  It would mean a long travel and a very early start or a late return.  I should be more dedicated!  Browsing Instagram, I saw a friend and colleague post pictures from a poppy field in Sutton Coldfield.  So we arranged to meet one evening and as the weather is so perfect this month, it turned out to be a most beautiful evening as well.  

A road of poppies
Picture taken by Dr Anthony Cox

Anthony and I met up at Minworth near Sutton Coldfield.  The field was beautiful.  The poppies had created a carpet of red over the whole field.  Several people has gathered in the field including photographers.  We stayed around till 9pm as the light started to fade.  It was exciting to see the colours and the light playing on the poppies and their stalks.  I was tired and getting the post out was not until the following morning.  I got some very nice feedback from the pictures and the whole project was very satisfying.  So I have ticked off a major photographic project on my bucket list.  The poppies have been photographed!!!!

Setting sun
Poppies lit up by the sun
Leaning towards the sun
A drone view of the poppies
Almost gone
Two photographers Damien and Anthony

Checkout Items in my shop

During the weeks of lockdown, the garden flowers and blossom start to look very attractive objects to photograph. luckily I have my macro 100mm and ring flash to take pictures. I have also experimented with different views of the flowers from the more traditional look to close up macro. I have also looked at different lighting approaches. Here are a few of my pictures taken in my garden during April 2020 lockdown.

Dragon head flowers
This was a stacked picture of 6 photographs
Star Tulip
Magnolia Blossom
The colour purple
Dandelion close up
….but the flowers have a limited life

The Great Western Arcade is situated near Snow Hill Station and in the morning is a throughway through to other parts of the city. It is lit up to show the different shops that are in the arcade. In the morning Greggs attracts many people to its store. There are lovely smells of fresh bread from the No1 the Bread collection. There is also the colour of Miss Macaroon. I loved the guy in glasses cleaning the opticians windows. The wedding dress shop window dressing is lovely but the passerby is more intent on her mission to get to work. The arcade is a reflection of the history, the present and the future of Birmingham.