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Tag Archives: Warwickshire

Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood

Bluebells stretching out in a forest glen are always a wonderful sight to behold.  This year there has been an abundance of bluebells and they are slightly earlier than previous times.  For the photographer, bluebells are so appealing and to see the blue flowers either close up or at a distance is always very appealing.  This year I first noticed the bluebells when I visited the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and then again during a bike ride to Hay Wood that is close to home.  I have visited several bluebell woods before, including Austy Woods, and I am always on the lookout for one that may offer a different take on this renowned British walk.  The Heart of England Forest‘s Bluebell Wood which is in Great Alne, Warwickshire, held a charity woodland walk to help to conserve these irreplaceable ancient woodland habitats.  I found it by chance on browsing through Facebook and signed up for the event.

Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
The start of the walk on a glorious spring day.
Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
The path into the bluebell wood.
Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
A beautiful ancient woodland with a lovely carpet of bluebells.

The wood is near to one of my favourite breweries, Purity Beer, but sadly we passed the entrance and arrived at the Great Alne wood.  Another time maybe! There were a few parked cars and there was a warm welcome from the organisers.  My daughter, Natasha and Noah, my grandson, came with me and we set off to explore.  This is an ancient wood and there were strategic signs placed along the way that gave us interesting nuggets of information about the wood.  There was also a tree log strategically placed midway during the walk, where we could get some lovely selfie pictures with a bluebell backdrop.  The place was quiet, and we felt at one with the place.  The wood has a rolling terrain with gentle hills which show off the bluebells.  Having had our fill of the bluebells we made our way back to the start.  There was a short detour to a hill that provided a view of the surrounding area.  The sun was out throughout the visit and this helped with the photography and views of both bluebells and scenery. 

Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
Bluebell backgrounds always makes for a lovely photograph.
Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
A view of bluebells in the ancient woodland.
Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
The perfect opportunity for a lensball picture

Photographic tips – I took my tripod with me, and I used my Canon 5D mkIV.  I brought my general-purpose lens EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and a zoom lens EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM.  I added a polariser on the 24-70mm lens.  All pictures were taken in manual setting with the ISO 100 and I had my tripod to allow for a low shutter speed.  My trusty iPhone13 also delivered some excellent pictures.

Bluebell walk at Great Alne Wood
The final view of the Warwickshire countryside.

I have added links to previous bluebell walks.  Please also visit the Heart of England Forest websites to learn more about what they do protecting and developing our forests.
Bluebells in Austy Woods
Heart of England Forest


Mural Leamington Spa

I just love taking pictures of street art around the West Midlands. As a companion piece to my photographic walk around Royal Leamington Spa, this is a detailed look at the street art around the Grand Union Canal area.  There are several wall murals that are worth highlighting and many are curated by the Brink Street Art group.  Each is interesting and whilst I know some of the artists, the vast majority I am unsure about.  I have put down the Instagram link to Brink Street Art Group if you wish to find out more about these images.  I will update the blog to give the recognition to the artist and their mural so please contact me. If you are visiting Leamington Spa, then they are worth a visit to see.

Leamington Street Art
Those eyes!
Mural Leamington Spa
The pen is mightier….
Mural Leamington Spa
Almost Neon light eyes
Mural Leamington Spa
Cheese, cat and a mouse. @JulesMuck
Mural Leamington Spa
Balancing
Mural Leamington Spa
Across the canal.
Mural Leamington Spa
A pair of eyes.
Mural Leamington Spa
Crow in the moonlight.
Mural Leamington Spa
The beauty of swans.
Mural Leamington Spa
Colourful street art by N4t4

If you liked this then take a look at the street art in these cities.
Birmingham – Digbeth Art and Hi-Vis festival 2021
Bristol – Clifton to Bedminster

Some of the artists featured Jules Muck, N4T4, (to be continued)


Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa

Royal Leamington Spa is long associated with the family. We used to visit in the late 1980s and think it was so exciting with the Parade and the Parade and the Royal Priors shopping centre. Returning over the years, the town still looks impressive with the Georgean and Victorian buildings looking clean and impressive in their whitewashed coatings. The opportunity to do a photographic walk around Leamington Spa was organised by my fellow photographer buddy, John Bray.  I arrived in the town inbetween two storms, Dudley and Eustace. The sun came back during the lull which whilst welcome, created strong shadows during our morning walk.

Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club
Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club
Blossom on the trees, Leamington Spa
Blossom on the trees along the River Leam, Leamington Spa.
Bandstand, Leamington Spa
The Bandstand in the Royal Pump Room gardens.

Our first stop was the home of bowls, Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club. The groundsmen were preparing the greens for spring and the greens looked beautiful. Our walk followed the river Leam and we passed through the Royal Pump Room gardens with the impressive Bandstand.

Moving over the river again we headed past All Saints Church where there were some opportunities to take reflective photographs. We went onto Mill Road and then Mill passage lingering on the impressive iron pedestrian bridge over the river. It was here that we encountered our first street art with a mural of elephants painted on an electricity substation hut near to the entrance to the bridge.  This work was painted by the Brink Contemporary Arts group and makes a feature of three elephants who used to live in Leamington

The river Leam was full following the recent rains and there was a strong current under the bridge.  There was also a fine mist of the spray from the waterfall crashing over the weir.  Having photographed the bridge and the river our next destination was the Grand Union canal.

Our walk took us through the streets of the town and we commented several times at the hidden gems of architecture.  Just before the canal there is a mixture of light industry and new buildings that leads onto an old factory where the Brink art group has facilitated more street art.  The pedestrian canal bridge has curved steps and provides views of the street art.

Pedestrian Bridge over the canal
It is in this area around the Pedestrian Bridge over the canal that the Leamington Spa Street Art is concentrated.

A selection of the murals is featured in my next blog.  My favourite was a mural painted by @n_4_t_4 on the side of the canal.  There were several others that are featured and part of the Brink Art group.

Street art by N4t4
Street art by N4t4

Making our way back to Jephson park, we stumbled upon a small oasis of crocuses in bloom showing that spring was well on its way.  Following on from Jephson park, we took in coffee in the city centre before heading off to Clarendon Square where many films are filmed including Upstairs, downstairs.  The latest TV series to be filmed there is “Stonehouse” based on the MP who faked his own death. 

Clarendon Square
Clarendon Square

Royal Leamington Spa is well worth photographic attention as there is much to see from the beautiful architecture to the contemporary street art. All the pictures were taken mainly with my Fujifilm x100v compact camera unless otherwise stated.

If you found this interesting then please take a look at the following site for more information about Leamington Spa
The street art in Leamington is overseen by the Brink Street Art Group.


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