Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bugsy Malone (Part Two)

Hot-headed Bugsy makes his mind up
Don't mess with Bugsy or you'll wind up
Wishing you'd left well enough alone
He's a man, a mountain
He's a rolling stone

And will he leave you
Sad and lonely, crying
I couldn't say, but it's known
Everybody loves that man
Bugsy Malone.
(Lyrics from Bugsy Malone, by Paul Williams)

(The above shot isn't quite in keeping with the others in the series,
but you can't stop a boy from having fun!)

I couldn't resist splitting this set into two. The black and white images seem to tell a strong story, but the colour versions also have their own charm, and I especially wanted to feature the red phone-box, which is such an iconic part of our British heritage.
This phone-box in particular, stands on a street corner, just outside a pub, down the road from my Mum's house where I used to live. I grew up as part of a generation that took these for granted. Phone-boxes smelt of cigarette smoke (and urine), and were usually littered with chocolate wrappers and cigarette butts. Rural ones were out-of-order more frequently than they were connected, and more often than not, they would eat at least one of your coins, while you frantically pressed the 'continue call' button, listening to the ominous sound of clicking and beeping on the line, knowing you would eventually be cut off.
Despite the negatives, they still had their own unique, quaint character, and were at one time, indispensable. Having to wait to gain access to one wasn't unusual (especially near train stations or in town centres, where there was nearly always a queue). As a teenager, if I needed to make a phone call during the day, I would walk down the road to this phone box, armed with 10p and 20p pieces, because the cost of using a home landline before 6pm was too expensive. It never occurred to me as a child, that one day they would become a rare sight.
This phone-box still stands on the pub corner, where it's been my whole life. But a year ago, as I was walking the dog with Little Ro, we popped in to investigate. I discovered that although the phone was still there (and at that time, there was still a line, albeit a dead tone), it was no longer in commission, and would never again make or receive another phone call. The phone box itself has been 'adopted' by the local council (for the cost of £1, as part of a scheme that attempts to retain these cultural icons for future generations). But it will no longer be maintained, and should it become more vandalised or derelict than it already is, I don't suppose the council will care enough to repair it.
Little Ro loved playing with the phone, as all toddlers do, and I decided to do a photo shoot there, but I left it a while. Yesterday, having decided to shoot there, I had a sudden panic that the phone box would no longer be standing (as so many have been removed since they were decommissioned), or that the outfit I had planned for this shoot would no longer fit. I was relieved to find the phone-box surviving, and Little Ro was more than happy to cooperate by dressing up for the occasion.
The phone is no longer working, and there is now no dial-tone - not even a dead one. Only silence. We are fortunate that most of the glass is still in place, so this phone-box remains relatively in tact. I do wonder if even vandals now think better of destroying the last remaining phone-boxes, now that they are a comparatively rare sight (or perhaps its rural location has preserved it, and vandals are not so discerning as I give them credit for).
Anyway. Apologies for the rambling post. The demise of this iconic British symbol got me thinking, and I'm glad I photographed it when I did - while I still can. Long may it remain.

Bugsy Malone (Part One)

He's a sinner
For all his friends
He always seems to be alone
But they love him
Bugsy Malone.

A city slicker
He can charm you
With a smile
And a style all his own
Everybody loves that man
Bugsy Malone.
(Lyrics from Bugsy Malone, by Paul Williams)

 "Hey you! Yeah, you. You wanna ride in my car? I got a convertible."
 "Sure, hop in. I'll give you a ride."
 "Listen, I'll be right back, I gotta make a phone call."
 "You're not listenin' to me, Sam, I need the money by tomorrow!"
 "This is how it's gonna be. You get me the dough, we'll say no more about it..."

Green Tin Snail

This is an introduction to my 'other baby,' known as the Green Bug. I'd always wanted a 2CV, ever since I was in my teens. My partner bought me one as a present, but it was off the road for five years, while it was restored, bit by bit, and finally passed its MOT just over a year ago. Since then, it has travelled from the far north of Scotland, to the depths of Norfolk, where I worked last winter. These are a few of my favourite shots of it on its travels - it has its own personality.

 Cullen Bay, Scotland

 Monk Fryston Hall, near Selby

 The Thursford Collection, Norfolk

Outside my temporary residence in Bale, Norfolk

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Little April Showers

Little Ro is obsessed with water, and has been making the most of our recent heat-wave, enjoying an April shower entirely of his own making.

The Knock

Very probably my favourite shoot to date, up 'The Knock' in Banffshire, Scotland. The Knock is a mountain visible from the window of our friends' house, where we stay. Little Ro climbed to the top (despite my best efforts to discourage him from going any higher), all by himself... albeit, he had to be carried down again by his daddy. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Recycling the Recycling Box & Planting Hanging Baskets

Yesterday, I did something I've been meaning to do for ages. I recycled the recycling box, and turned it into a planter for the front garden. The council provided us with blue plastic recycling boxes, but then a couple of years ago, they changed their mind and replaced them with a large blue wheelie bin. (I should have thought to photograph the 'before' photo of the ugly box for this blog). I disguised the ugliness with some sacking cloth, attached with garden twine (I have also given the same treatment to a plain plastic pot beside it), filled the box with multi-purpose compost, and began potting up shade-loving plants, as this arrangement is destined for my shady front garden. I relocated my hostas and pieris from the south-facing back garden, which is always hot, in direct sun. (You can't see the hostas in this photo yet, as it's a bit early for them, and the pieris hasn't been too happy in the back, so it's not at its best. I'm hoping it will prefer the shadier conditions at the front). I also added some ornamental grasses, an ivy, and a hardy fern. I think the recycling box makes a good planter. I'll update with photos in summer when the plants have got going.

I also planted up my hanging baskets yesterday. I know it's a bit early according to most, but I have no greenhouse, and my plants have been sitting on the outside window hardening off for a couple of weeks now. Some are already flowering, all were outgrowing their pots, and we've had a heat-wave over this last week or so, which has made it hard to keep them watered in their tiny pots, so they were ready. I haven't hung the hanging baskets yet. I've balanced them in plant pots, so that they are off the ground, but still sheltered. By day, I sit them on the sun-drenched patio. At night I am moving them around the side of the house where it's sheltered. We're due worse weather this weekend, so I'll continue to keep them sheltered for a week or so, before hanging them ready for May. There are three hanging baskets (12", 14" and 16"). Each of the hanging baskets contains an ornamental grass in the centre, for height, some creeping jenny, and an ivy. (I'll list the other plants individually below). I also potted up three spare petunia 'Tumbelina' (Joanna, Julia, and Susanna) with another ornamental grass in a pot covered with sacking cloth for the patio.

This is the largest (16") basket, and will be hung at the back of the house - south facing. As well as the grass, ivy, and creeping jenny, this basket contains trailing Ivy Geraniums ('Precision Amethyst,' and 'Precision Burgundy Red'), a trailing Pelargonium ('Blizzard' white), trailing Callie (in purple), Convolvulus ('Sabatius Blue'), and Petunias ('Fanfare Dark Blue,' 'Fanfare Lavender Vein,' 'Tumbelina - Angela,' and a mini 'Double Blue'). I may have over-filled this basket for the back garden, but as this is my first year attempting hanging baskets, I'm keen to see which plants fare best, so if it becomes over-crowded in summer, I may have to separate some of the plants out.

This is the 14" basket, and I'm hoping to hang it at the front of the house in semi-shade. This is potted up with five different Surfinias (as well as the grass, ivy, and creeping jenny). The Surfinias are 'Sky Blue,' 'White,' 'Blue Topaz,' 'Burgundy (Keiburtel),' and 'Sunblu.' I've read that Surfinias should be OK in semi-shade, so I'm crossing my fingers that they'll get enough light at the front of the house.

And lastly, this is the 12" basket, which is also going to the front of the house in semi-shade. This contains just three trailing fuschias (as well as the grass, ivy and creeping jenny). 'Southern Belle Trailing Deep Purple,' 'Southern Belle Trailing Blue Mirage,' and 'Trailing Trudi Davro.' Again, I have read that fuschias shouldn't mind semi-shade, so am hoping they will get sufficient light.

This is a photo of the first of the petunias in flower. Hoping for many more of these!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Chesterfield's Crooked Spire

I developed my passion for photography while travelling the world. It's surprisingly easy to overlook local landmarks, and never appreciate what's on our own doorstep, forgetting that what may be an everyday sight to some of us, is a tourist attraction to someone else from further afield. 
Despite frequently passing Chesterfield's Crooked Spire, I had only ever once been inside the church, and had never climbed the spire (which is infrequently open to tourists). On Easter Monday, I climbed the 144 steps up the tower, carrying a three-year-old (who went off the idea of climbing them himself upon arrival) , and a camera. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I could barely walk for several days afterwards, but I was glad I made the effort to appreciate this quirky, one-of-a-kind church, despite my jelly-legs.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter Bunny (and friends)

I stepped up the game on our Easter photos this year, which took a little more preparation. I got very lucky with these costumes, from ebay (which are ex-hire-shop, but never worn, so they are a very high quality). He loves the rabbit costume (and frequently requests to wear this at home). He gets very into character when dressed as the bunny, and likes to eat raw carrot, while in costume. It is an effort to keep the white outfit white, especially while he was outdoors for this shoot. 
He was less keen on the ducky costume (which was also a fraction too small, despite the fact that theoretically, they are both the same size). I still managed this one shot. I don't like to force him to do anything he doesn't want to do (and the best photos are always when he's enjoying himself anyway), so the duck remains relatively unworn, while the rabbit is most definitely in his 'favourites pile' until it is outgrown. I don't think either of these will still fit next Easter, but I loved shooting this set of special Easter photos... And next year, I already have a sheep outfit lined up. (No, seriously!).
Just for fun, click the 'Easter' link beneath this post, for a comparison of our Easter photo shoots, as Little Ro has grown older. The Easter Bunny has grown up a little since he was three months old.