Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?

We had snow on Boxing Day. So we made the most of it! What better way to round off another year on the life of a very happy little boy?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Gingerbread House

As Christmas approached, little Ro was more than thrilled to make his first gingerbread house.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Say a Little Prayer

While staying in Norfolk, we visited Binham Priory (a beautiful church built into the ruins of a former priory). Here, he seemed mesmerised by the candles in the church (and I like to think he looks like a little angel).

Friday, 31 October 2014

Urbex - Norfolk

Another style of photography I love to follow is 'Urbex' (urban exploration). Some photographers go to great lengths to locate and gain access to abandoned buildings, the world over, in order to photograph them. If ever I'm presented with an opportunity, I love to shoot derelict buildings (as long as I'm not breaking any laws).
While working in Norfolk last winter, I drove past this property, and couldn't resist turning the car around to explore. It's known as 'Thursford Castle' although in reality, it was never a castle - it has a far more sinister history. It was a former work-house, and later, a hospital where patients with infectious diseases were quarantined. Not the most cheerful past.
Recently, the property has been granted planning permission to turn it into a residential property, and most of the grounds have been cleared in preparation for renovations to begin, once the site is sold. If I understand correctly, the planning permission retains the derelict chapel, incorporating it into the design.
I explored this site on Halloween, but despite the creepy time of year, much of the atmosphere of this ruin has been lost, as the area has been sanitized. It did feel more like a building plot, than a venue with a troubling past. Having said that, the grounds are surrounded by a wall, which has four small rooms built into each corner. (I think I read that these rooms were once occupied by armed guards, who protected the establishment from potential thieves, who may have attempted to raid the work-house for food, during times of famine). Those four tiny rooms have retained an ominous atmosphere (the small windows to one of these rooms are photographed below), while the rest of the plot is really quite tranquil.
I've no doubt that whoever buys these grounds will end up with a lovely property. Part of me is delighted that the site will be renovated, without deteriorating further, and disappearing into nothing. Although there is also something fascinating about these old, historical buildings, as they gradually crumble. Once it becomes private property, I find it slightly sad that the public (people like me) will no longer be able to gain access to explore its history.

Also nearby is Binham Priory, which has a lovely little modern church built into the ruins of the former priory. Both locations provided a nice photographic opportunity, Norfolk is a very beautiful part of the world.

These photographs are slightly more post-processed than my usual style. I find this particular effect works well for architectural photography (and particularly lends itself to abandoned buildings).

Friday, 24 October 2014


Little Ro spent several months of last year dressed as Spiderman. For many weeks, he refused to wear any other outfit, by day or night. We ended up buying extra identical outfits to allow for laundry.
It was very kind of a local council in Norfolk to foresee his Spiderman obsession when we were visiting, and paint the playground to match his outfit. (Or it may have been coincidence, but I enjoyed the matching colours!)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Another Scottish Summer

Little Ro enjoying the scenery of Scotland, on another visit up north.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Plant Pots

The thrill of a new arrival of plant pots (purchased from ebay).

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Project Front Garden

When we bought our house, several years ago, it had no front garden. The garden-wall that ought to have been there had been demolished, and thick concrete had replaced where the garden should have been. Effectively, we just had an extra wide pavement, that people used to skateboard on. Not ideal. 
Around March 2014, I started to make enquiries about replacing the wall. (I felt there was no point in reinstating the garden, without some means of stopping people from walking across it). One day, I went onto a local facebook group, to ask if anyone could recommend a local brick-layer. And by chance, a few posts down, someone was offering free bricks...
I rang them on the same day, and we went to their garden, where sure enough, they had knocked down their crumbling garden wall, and had around 2000 bricks on offer (more than enough to rebuild our own wall, as well as our neighbours', as theirs was also missing). Not only that, but the bricks were from the right era - they were identical to the wall that should have been there. They even had matching half-round bricks for the top of the wall on offer, so we could match our new wall with the original, existing wall from next door.
There were two obstacles in place: firstly, the transportation of the bricks. They were free for collection, and only a couple of miles away, but bricks are heavy! The garden they came from was up a narrow side street where an articulated lorry would never have had room to manoeuvre (even if the cost of hiring one had been an option).
Everyone said we were mad, but we took the back seats out of our Citroen Xsara Picasso, read the manual to establish the maximum weight capacity, did some sums, and began transporting bricks - load by load - back to our house. It took about twenty journeys, and we worked in rain and sun, but eventually, we had accumulated enough bricks (we hoped!) to do the job.
The second obstacle was the fact that the thick concrete was still in place. Logic dictates that it would have made sense to remove the concrete before reinstating the wall. But free bricks wouldn't wait, and I knew the opportunity was too good to pass up. So we left the concrete in place, while we collected enough bricks. The two photos below demonstrate about twenty loads of bricks, prior to dressing, stacked on the ugly concrete in front of our house.

That enormous pile of bricks then had to be dressed, by hand. The stack on the right (of grubby bricks) gradually became the stack on the left (of dressed bricks). Fortunately, our neighbours were cooperative! The photo below is the project 'at its worst.' The dressed bricks were stacked and waiting, and the concrete had been dug out enough to enable the wall to be built. It was at this point, we discovered just how thick the concrete was, and that it would be a big task to remove it.
Nevertheless, the wall went up, using most of the pile of bricks, as well as the half-rounds for the top.
 And we then began the mammoth task of breaking up these thick chunks of concrete.

Once the concrete was eventually broken up, we then hired a skip for its removal (and had a little help, from a certain small person).

And the front garden began to resemble a front garden...
We bought some railway sleepers to make a raised garden. (They were a bargain on ebay, but believe me when I tell you, they weigh a tonne! Again, transported by hand, via the Xsara Picasso). And we used most of the remaining bricks to raise the ground level up to the doorway.

We then positioned the railway sleepers and top-soil for the raised bed, and had gravel delivered to fill in the gap and cover the unusable earth. And at last, I was finally able to plant up my front garden with some hollies (for year-round foliage), roses for summer colour, and various other plants and shrubs. This photo was taken towards the end of last summer, after the garden was planted up, but before it was completed.
In autumn I planted a variety of spring bulbs, which have burst into life this spring now that the garden is completed. The bins are disguised with a bamboo screen, and there is a dividing fence between our own garden and the neighbours'. There is bamboo growing in an upcycled galvanised bin, and a Corkscrew Hazel beside the front door. I'll upload a separate post with photos and descriptions of the plants in our new front garden, but this completes our front garden! (With apologies that most of these photos are poor quality phone photos. Expensive cameras and heavy labour don't mix well, but I still wanted to document the progress of this project).

The latter two photos were added retrospectively, in spring 2015.