Loading...
Tysoe Windmill sunrise

I am always on the lookout for different places to visit in my locality. Reviewing local tags on Instagram pages highlights the beauty of the surrounding area and reveals a range of places to visit.  Recently, I was given the opportunity of selecting a picture for the #igerscoventry #igerswarwickshire Instagram site.  A black and white picture of Tysoe Windmill in South Warwickshire caught my eye.  This was a place that I had not heard of before and the picture got my vote. Immediately I set about researching the windmill and looking at pictures that other photographers had taken.  It looked interesting, and I planned a morning sunrise whilst we were enjoying good September weather. 

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
A foggy start

Getting up early is not so difficult in September but there was the problem with the national fuel shortage. Luckily the 24-hour garage near to us had petrol and I was able to set off.  The conditions were initially clear and then when I left the M40 it became very foggy as I travelled through Kineton village.  I was excited as the conditions were shaping up to be excellent for the sunrise.  I passed through the villages of Tysoe and then saw familiar landmarks from my Google maps research.  I found the country lane and parked up the car.  The fog was swirling around with the sun occasionally showing through.  The Windmill is situated on a high hill.  My approach on the public footpath took me up some wooden steps, many of which were broken.  I did not see the windmill until I was almost at the top.  The fog was still around and a picture of spiders’ webs on the gate with the windmill in the background set the scene.  The picture also did well on my social media.  Looking back down the hill, the fog was lying in pockets on the landscape.  There was that lovely saturation of the sky that happens before the Sun is in the sky.  Sunrise was nearly upon me.  I followed the footpath around the south side of the hill before entering via a gate onto the hilltop with the Windmill.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Spiders’ webs at the entrance to the Windmill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Looking at the early morning landscape prior to sunrise

The restored windmill has a commanding presence.  The structure has weathered brickwork and is rather tubby looking around the middle.  It has a wooden box where the Windmill mechanism protrudes away from the sales.  I have done a deconstructed view of the windmill showing all my various observations.

Different views of the Tysoe Windmill

Back to the sunrise.  It was lovely to see and whilst there were no clouds in the sky to provide any colour variations, the light was still beautiful.  I took plenty of pictures which included the long shadows of the trees, spiders’ webs highlighted by the morning moisture and landscapes showing the last remnants of the foggy conditions.  There was no one else around bar the cattle in the fields and the crows flying around.  Then the sun became much stronger, and the conditions slowly changed.  Reluctantly I made my way down the hill and back to the car.  There were still a couple more pictures to take before I was back on the road home.  Next time I will visit in the evening and see how the sunset shapes up but until then I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Sunrise at Tysoe Windmill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Landscape view from the hill
Tysoe Windmill sunrise
Tysoe Windmill and its sails

Compton Verney

The last day of 2020 was a day of sunshine and I visited Compton Verney with my good friend John Bray. The grounds were open for visiting and the weather was perfect for photography. It was also perfect for having a good chat in the process of taking the pictures. The parkland has a circular route that takes in the North Park and through a small wood up to the Old Town Meadow. We also explored further beyond the Meadow up to Lighthorne Rd at the northern boundary of the park. It was muddy and heavy going in places but the rewards was some spectacular views of the House and the beautiful parkland designed by Capability Brown.

Sphinx Compton Verney
Sphinx on the ornamental bridge approaching the main house
The Parkland around Compton Verney
The Parkland around Compton Verney
Beautiful light and splendid colours in the landscape
Beautiful light and splendid colours in the landscape

The Old Town Meadow had artwork by Krijin de Koning. Green Dwelling is an intriguing collection of various boxes which is used to highlight the history of the land. The collections of multicoloured boxes (mainly green) offer many different interpretations but most of all they are fun to photograph.

Sculpture in the Old Town Meadow with Wreath
Sculpture in the Old Town Meadow with Wreath
Window to the Meadow
Window to the Meadow

The land around the house also houses artwork and the present sculpture on view is by Ariel Schlesinger and is named “Ways to say Goodbye”. It is a tree where the branches are carrying shards of broken glass. The tree is cast in aluminium and the shattered glass is in the branches reaching for the sky. It offers different interpretations to the viewer and the photographer.

Aluminium Tree with Shards of glass in the branches
Aluminium Tree with Shards of glass in the branches

This part of the grounds I love as I could go on and on taking photographs with the trees providing the framing of both the house and the lake. There was also a carpet of yellow flowers around the base of the trees that added a welcome splash of alternative colour to the area. The house had paintings in the windows which were following a Christmas theme. More importantly there was a shed offering coffee and a pastry which was much needed after all the walking.

Yellow path to the House
Yellow path to the House
Picture in the window
Picture in the window
Christmas themed picture in the window
Christmas themed picture in the window

Finally we explored the Ice House Coppice area. We bypassed the Ice House and went to the edge of the lake where there was a splendid Christmas tree. I did notice a whicker replica of a heron catching a fish and this had to be taken, It was my last day as a registered dentist and during lockdown I became involved with a Twitter group with the hashtag #dentistswithheron. If you read the article and follow the hashtag, then you may understand what I am talking about.

Christmas tree with house in the background
Christmas tree with house in the background
Heron catching a fish!

John and I ventured onto the main road so we could take a picture from the bridge looking onto the lake and the house. We captured some excellent views of the property and the lakes beyond Compton Verney.

View from the bridge on the main Road
View from the bridge and ferry on the main Road
View of the house over the Compton pool
View of the house over the Compton pool
Lovely reflections over the pool
Lovely reflections over the pool

To end a successful visit one of the pictures that I took was featured by Shefali Oza on BBC Midlands Today weather picture.

My picture featured on the BBC midlands weather bulletin
My picture featured on the BBC Midlands Today weather bulletin

The visit to the house and gardens made for ad fantastic end to a stressful and difficult 2020, here is hoping that 2021 will be a great year.

Tie a red ribbon around a tree (as you normally do!)
Tie a red ribbon around a tree (as you normally do!)

If you want to learn more about Compton Verney then please visit their web site that gives you all the information about visiting this beautiful property in the Warwickshire country side
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park

The afternoon winter sun shinning through the wood

Another visit to Burton Dassett during December gave me the chance to explore new parts of the park and rediscover new views of familiar landmarks. I was here with my grandchildren and they were very adventurous climbing both Windmill and Magpie Hills. I went up the steeper incline of Harts Hill to get beautiful panoramic views of the area. I paid the price for clambering up the hill as I slipped on the muddy incline on the way down and was rewarded with a muddy backside.

Lily and Chloe look out from the top of Magpie Hill
Lily and Chloe look out from the top of Magpie Hill
Magpie Hill, Burton Dassett, Warwickshire
Magpie Hill, Burton Dassett, Warwickshire
Long shadows on Windmill Hill
Long shadows on Windmill Hill
The view of the Warwickshire countryside

My new explore with the family was Fox Covert a walk through a small wood. The path is just over a mile long and was not too muddy. The afternoon light was streaming in through the branches onto the path providing many different patterns on the forrest floor. In the hollow was a picturesque brook which was spoilt by a car tyre sitting in the water. How it had got there is anyone’s guess. There was a beautiful patch of trees that was lit up by the sun. Try as I could, my pictures just did not work out the way I wanted them to. Frustrating that I could visualise the scene but not capture it to my satisfaction. 🙁

Fox Covert with the sunlight streaming through
Fox Covert with the sunlight streaming through
A stream in the hollow (with discarded tyre)
A stream in the hollow (with discarded tyre)
Fox Covert woods
Fox Covert woods

On the way up from the hollow, the path meandered slightly and then the sun caught the trees and cast long shadows. I took the picture and it looked almost how I wanted it to. Post processing in black and white gave me the result I wanted. The monochrome treatment provided a beautiful rendition of the light that I saw. It was pleasing to find this small (undiscovered by me) part of Burton Dassett. I will be back in the spring to rediscover Fox Covert when spring is in full swing. These pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v.

The afternoon winter sun shinning through the wood
The afternoon winter sun shinning through the wood

Photographic tip – Follow the light and look around for interesting scenes. I like shooting into the light but be careful and don’t look directly at the sun. I got hung up on one particular spot which did not produce many pictures. A few steps away was a really spectacular scene, so keep moving and be ready for all eventualities. Also processing the pictures interested me. I choose black and white processing, Why? It just seemed to look better for some of the scenes.

More Burton Dassett pictures from previous visits are on my blog.
Burton Dasset Hills Country Park – Escape to the Countryside
A Glorious Day

If you want more information then follow the Warwickshire County Council site which is packed full of information.
Burton Dassett Hills Country Park


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
All Saints Church

There is always the countryside to escape to during Lockdown#2 and Burton Dassett Hill Country Park deep in the Warwickshire countryside provides an opportunity to get some fresh air, enjoy a walk and see some beautiful scenery. The weather was kind to us on the Saturday afternoon we visited. It was late afternoon and the sun was creating lovely colours through the clouds. It was possible to see well into the distance and on this visit I made my way to All Saints Church. Here are some pictures from the day to enjoy.

Barton Dassett Hills Country Park - setting sun
Barton Dassett Hills Country Park – setting sun
On top of Magpie Hill
On top of Magpie Hill
Hill walking
Going down is easier than going up
Magpie Hill with Windmill Hill in the background
Magpie Hill with Windmill Hill in the background

All the pictures were taken with my Canon 5D mark IV and I brought two lens with me. The first is my “go to” 24-70mm which always gives great pictures. I also used by 200mm zoom for some of the pictures as well. The setting sun provided beautiful light making the photography a delight. My favourite picture is of All Saints Church and the lovely glow of light on the stone architecture. Unfortunately the church was not open due to the Coronavirus so look forward to visiting again when the restrictions are relaxed.

the lane to the Vicarage at the Church
Beautiful light in the lane to the Vicarage at the Church
End of the day with a beautiful view
End of the day with a beautiful view from the slopes of Windmill Hill

Further reading
A Glorious Day – read about my first visit to Burton Dassett
Burton Dassett Hills Country Park – Warwickshire County Council Web Page


Warwick is a sleepy market town which is most famous for its castle. The town itself has many interesting streets and buildings. On a sunny Sunday morning, I parked up near to the high street and took a few “classic” pictures of the castle and the town centre. I had my Canon 5D and my Canon 24 -70mm lens which always gives good results. Take a look below at the results. My favourite picture of the walkabout is of St Mary’s Church and I enjoyed the black and white processing. I took this picture looking up Castle St towards the Church.

St Mary's Church
St Mary’s Church taken from Castle Street
St Mary's Church
St Mary’s Church
Fun boats on the Avon
Fun boats on the Avon – looks like an important meeting
Warwick Castle on the Avon
Warwick Castle on the Avon
Market Street
Market St
Market Place
Market Place, Warwick
St John's Hous
St John’s House, Jacobean Manor
Warwick
The Eastgate and St Peter’s chapel
Warwick
Lord Leycester Hospital
Warwick
Council offices leading to St Mary’s Church
Warwick
Window flowers with St Mary’s Church in the reflection

Further links – Lord Leycester Hospital


Astrophotography is good fun but living near to a city means only one thing – light pollution. Also you need to have very good weather as well. I had been telling myself that I need to take a picture of Comet C/2020 F3 otherwise known as Neowise. I read around the subject and realised that I needed a dark and clear sky clear of light pollution. I also looked at many different photographer’s pictures on Flickr including the Neowise group. Camera settings should include a large aperture to let as much light in as possible. The shutter speed is set at around 3 to 5 seconds. Any greater and the picture would be blurred by the trail of movement of the comet across the horizon. After that, the ISO is boosted to again increase the sensitivity of the camera. It goes without saying that a tripod is essential.

A close up of the comet

After a few abortive attempts locally mainly due to the amount of light around the village where I live, I made the decision to go further afield. Chesterton Windmill is a classic landmark for photographers. It is an interesting structure to include in your photograph and it sits on top of a hill with commanding views of the Warwickshire countryside. It is sufficiently far enough away from the city lights to provide a darker sky.

Looking for the comet.

After the decision, there were delays due to the weather and then on Wednesday night it seemed that there may be a lull in the overcast skies. I took a chance. I recruited a friend to come along with me. Therefore Sean and I set off for the sunset at Chesterton Windmill hoping for clear skies. The sun was nearly set by the time we arrived with many people enjoying the mild evening. We waited for the twilight to arrive and then the night proper. Neowise is becoming very faint and is ranked at the lowest category of 3 in brightness. At the beginning of July it was much brighter but now you do have to hunt for it in the sky. Even though it is now closest to the Earth, it is rapidly moving away from the sun.

The black and white version

Gradually the skies over the Windmill become much darker and I was lucky that I had brought a very strong torch to help me move around. I did drop the camera platform bracket that allows attachment to the tripod. Luckily I found it amongst the undergrowth – much to my relief. There was a growing frustration as it was very difficult to locate the comet. My “sky at night” app informed me of its location but still we could not see it. The movement of the clouds over the sky were not helping. Eventually I turned up the ISO on my camera and I caught the comet. I was very pleased and then I was able to take a few more pictures. It was still a frustrating time as the clouds kept passing over just where the comet was.

Twilight and it is now a patient wait.

The results of my photography are shown in this blog. Looking back I could have done a bit more with the picture taking process but there were people around to chat to and I was also looking at the sky with binoculars. I was just grateful that I could see the comet. The pictures may not be the greatest but the evening was exhilarating and fun as we chased the comet through the clouds. I now know what to do but there is unlikely to be another comet for some time yet. I may come back to do some star trails or even look for some meteor showers in the future.

So long Neowise and thanks for passing by earth on your travels.

Here is a link that shows how difficult it was becoming to see the comet in the final few weeks of its journey through our solar system.

A gloomy day with little light is giving this Sunday more credit than it deserved. Undeterred I visited Clowes Wood which is adjacent to Earlswood reservoir. There had been a great deal of rain earlier I the week and the wood was tracks were soft underfoot and there were sections where there was standing water. However the light did hold up and the colours of the wood were still present. There was a carpet of fallen leaves that gave a dull orange colour to the surroundings. I was pleased with the pictures that were taken mainly with my Canon 5D using both a normal and wide angled lens. There was minimal processing and one or two of the photographs do stand out.

An arch of trees
Through the clearing
Patterns of decay
Over the bridge
A branch of leaves
Carpet of leaves
The turning colours of the ferns

Warwick is a favourite place of mine as it has many hidden delights.  The tourists flock to thee castle and will generally give the town a miss.  Don’t get me wrong the castle is well worth a visit and if you are going there you need to give up the whole day for the experience.  The town has a number of germs and one is the hospital. 

View down the High Street

The hospital was founded in 1571 by the Earl of Leicester but the Chapel had been standing on the site since 1126.  It had a long and varied history before coming under the patronage of the Earl of Leicester in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1.  It was a place for old or injured solders to rest and recuperate. They were called the Brethren who were under the charge of a Master.  

The Guildhall and the topsy turvy walls

Today Lord Leycester’s Hospital is a place to visit and has an imposing presence on the main High Street into Warwick.  I have visited there before and this time took Sandy with me.  We visited the Chapel, the Guildhall and the Great Hall.  In the Great Hall there is a seat where King James 1st during a three day Banquet in 1617.  I took several overall pictures and the one of the outside of the Hospital made the BBC weather watchers.

The Great Hall with the King James Chair to the left
Details in the Chapel
The entrance to the Hospital
The Courtyard

I took along my Canon Camera 5D with a 24-105mm lens and it dealt well with low light conditions and the wide angles needed in the main hall. Well worth a visit and there is a lot of detail that I did not record as I went mainly for the overall pictures.

My Picture featured on Midlands Today