Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Friday, 30 December 2016

A Visit from Jack Frost

And so I come to the last blog post of 2016.  With camera fully charged, Tia sitting in the back of the car, and me with fingerless gloves ready to keep warm but able to press the shutter, it was time to escape the house that had been my 'prison' for the Christmas period (I love the lead up, but the actual day itself?  Not so keen!).  While preparing my  butternut squash and parsnips for home made soup later on and the bread maker in full kneading stage, I looked out of the window and saw that Jack Frost had been for a visit.  The ice glistening on every remaining leaf, the roof tiles rippled like an icy lake. I was not going to waste this morning. 

Tia hadn't been on the Fen for such a long time, instead I have been taking her on dark walks on her lead around the quiet village we live in.  This depresses her, so as she sat in the back of the car, she wasn't sure what we were doing or where she was going.  We stopped at a junction and then the familiar view of the Fen met her eyes and her excitement was a joy to hear.

I couldn't wait to start walking on the firm, icy ground and, as I turned around after locking up the car, Tia was gone, choosing the path to the river.  Walking fast but still within reachable range, running back to me for a hug and rushing off again, so incredibly happy, just like me as I blew away the cobwebs!

Freezing fog lay in the distance, the tree with the broken limb that I focus on each time I come here was now bare but beautifully silhouetted against the grey backdrop.

The metal gate posts frozen with pin point precision as the frost coated every inch.  The metal almost looking like fur.

My familiar camera worked its magic as I continued along the walk, up close and personal to the ice crystals...

... and picking up the laden grasses in the distance by the river.  My equilibrium restored!

The horses that have been walked here for winter, capturing the strong sun that had decided to peek through.

Enjoying the fresh hay from their owners and then trotting around the field, following the sun's warm rays while they could.

I couldn't get enough of my macro shots.  The ice crystals too tactile not to capture.  The seed heads taking on a whole new beauty from their delicious brown autumn shells.

The landscape so fresh and enjoying its slumber before the intensive months ahead.

With fingers, toes and paws numb, it was time to head back and give a sigh of satisfaction.  A week ago I enjoyed my walk in London, and this week I was back on the Fen with Tia and the camera.  It's selfish to say, but I am enjoying my little spaces of personal time, alone with my thoughts and embracing any time I have to just be me again.

And so, the 2016 candle is nearly out.  Some will say they will be glad this year is over, but I have enjoyed some parts of it especially rediscovering who I am now that the Teens are independent.  I have scared myself at times with feelings, changing jobs, having to be accepting to those who have failed me, but I have come out of this year a stronger person and more myself than I have been for years.

It's time now to start thinking of a word for 2017.  I have so many floating around my head, and they are all a little bit selfish, but still have a couple of days to make the final decision.

Wishing all my dear Readers...


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Seasons Greetings from London

I must apologise for being a little absent over the festive period.  I made the terrible mistake of changing my camera which drained my inspiration, my patience, my love of seeing things differently.  For such a small piece of technology, it surprised me how much the sap was washed away from my limbs.  So, to cut a very long story very short, my tried and tested Big Bertha is now back with me and my sense of rhythm has been restored!


So, how were your holidays?  Did all your weeks (or months) of planning work out for you?  Have you come out the other side unscathed?  I have decided to change my outlook on this festive season now that the teens are older, and make things a little easier.  How?  I don't know yet, but I have plenty of time to rethink over the next few months!

Now, enough of the talking, let's get to some shots I took with my mobile phone on the 23 December in London!  Am I mad?  Yes, said my friends, and No we won't be joining you!  Well, let me tell you, the best time to visit Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus in December is the last office working day!  I kept thinking that it was a bad idea to book theatre tickets for Miss Teen and Miss B so close to Christmas, but it really was the best thing in the end.  Once they were safely inside, I then took off on my own, stopping off at places, sitting down on the steps of Trafalgar Square, drinking coffee, shopping, watching street entertainers... it was absolute bliss!  So, here we go, a visual festive treat for you... (just hover over the photo for the description)










Once the girls were out of the theatre, we decided to leave early for the Tube as we thought it would be an absolute nightmare down there. I was more than pleasantly surprised...the carriages were half empty!  Empty carriages at 6pm?!  Kings Cross, busy but still plenty of seats on the train home and in plenty of time!


The moral to my madness?... We're doing it again next year!!  To have those three hours of 'me' time was incredibly satisfying and a little Christmas treat to myself.

Sorry again for taking so long to post, hopefully life will calm down a little now that I have been reinstated with my camera, and I can now soak up the inspiration from those special and cherished people who surround me.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Revisiting Camden Town and Santacon in London

On Saturday 10 December, something special will be happening iaround the world in towns and cities... 

Santacon 2016
(you can find out more here)

An event organised by the power of social media and one that I loved coming across a couple of years ago in 2014.  So, my blog today is going back in time and revisiting December 2014, when we were pleasantly surprised by the fun and festive feeling of Camden Town and Trafalgar Square in London.  Full santa outfits have to be worn (not just a hat or Christmas jumper!) and details of where the events being held are only told the night before.  Unfortunately I can't get down to London for a couple of weeks but reliving this day from 2014 was still as fun as it was then.  So, mince pie and a glass of sherry my dear readers... here we go again...

Well the year is nearly over and this would be my last trip to London for now.  A little bit of Christmas shopping was to be embarked upon, along with some sight seeing in the City to see the Christmas decorations sparkling in the night time.  What we were not expecting to see along the way were Santas.  Many, many, many Santas.  Now, if your little ones are reading this with you, can I explain that these are being interviewed to work in the North Pole next year in the real Father Christmas' workshops!  To the adults- this was one massive pub crawl!!!!  So as I take you around our visit this time, you may see quite a lot of Santas' in different shapes and guises along the way!

Just a quick hop onto the tube to Camden Town from Kings Cross and we joined the crowds.  Yes, people were saying that we were mad to go Christmas shopping in London, so seeing the Mad Hatter as we came out of the tube station really didn't help!!

Camden Town is full of markets, individual unique shops and friendly staff - unrushed and very happy to please.  Yes, it was full of shoppers but we didn't feel as though we were being pushed along, instead we were able to take our time and handle things at our leisure.  What is also so different is that the signs for the shops are accompanied by huge examples of the wares they are selling inside.  So instead of seeing a typical barber shop red and white column, you can see boots...


in fact anything from a distance.

As we walked along there were more and more Santas walking along to Camden Lock.  Santacon was obviously in full swing!

Now to some I suppose Camden Town can look a little shabby with its individual style, so if you are into sleek and shiny High Streets then Camden is not for you.  However, if you like things that are a little different and especially if you have teenage kids, then this is a MUST see.  Miss Teen and her friend Miss B felt totally at home and were happily soaking up the young, vibrant atmosphere and were surprised at just how long the stallholders spoke to them and let them try things on without getting all huffy.  It was a new experience for them.

My happy places though were capturing the ghost signs on the sides of old shops...

... taxi cabs outside good old fashioned fish and chip shops...

... lamp shops...

... boots...

... dresses...

... candles...

... necklaces... (a favourite for Miss Teen and Miss B - the stallholder was amazing with his knowledge of TV shows and film).

Then there was the food, and what a huge choice there was.  All freshly prepared and cooked.  Yes there are the typical fast food places, but most people head to the stall holders where cocktail sticks are handed out to try the different flavours of the world.  Even Octopus is freshly cooked and served.

We went for the Turkish option with succulent chargrilled chicken, perfectly cooked rice, fresh salad and a flat bread!  Perfect!  For dessert we went along to some more stalls and spotted this one with oozing cakes.

I truly wanted that sticky toffee cake but passed, however Miss Teen and Miss B enjoyed the brownie pops.  I was allowed a little taster and they were heavenly!

Lunchtime here is very busy but again we didn't feel that we were being rushed along, everyone just taking their time.

But hey, do you want to see where all the Santas went?  They were at Camden Lock...

Streams of them, all very merry.

One had obviously already been down a chimney!

Another had already been to one of the corset shops.

The atmosphere was fantastic and the girls were so happy to be part of it.

But to keep on track we needed to get back over the bridge.

Passing this great looking shop called All Saints where you can just see all the antique sewing machines in the windows

Can you make them out?

Time was knocking on so we needed to say a reluctant goodbye to Camden Town.  I feel that this will be a regular trip for my daughter now!

Another tube journey to Charing Cross and a short walk to Trafalgar Square next.

When I was younger I used to have a regular Christmas trip here with my Nan and Grandpa, just to see the Christmas Tree which is a gift from Norway.

The lights were on as the sun began to set over London town.

Including the star at the top!

Yes, you guessed it.  Santacon was here too!

If I was prepared I think we would have stayed to see the whole square full of Santas, which is what happened later on.  But we needed to walk to Westminster before our train back.

We walked past Downing Street on the way.  Long gone are the days when you could stand next to the famous front door with a policeman!

Westminster was full but we managed to get near the railings of the Houses of Parliament.

Then along to Westminster Bridge to see the London Eye at night.

County Hall looks beautiful when it is lit up.

London at night is my favourite time to see this magical place.

Everyone dashing here, there and everywhere!

It was now time to say goodbye to the Thames...

And let the ghostly carriages pass us by!

Sorry, couldn't resist, the photo could have come out A LOT better but it was a quick turn round to see them going past me.

Back to 2016 and my last London trip of the year will be coming up in a couple of weeks when I hope to capture the tree at Trafalgar Square while Miss Teen and Miss B enjoy a West End Show.  I can't wait to get down to my old home town and breathe in that air again and have a couple of hours of selfish 'me' time.

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