A Higgledly-Piggledy Month …

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Wow, can’t believe the summer holidays are all done for another year!

Hope you’ve had a great time while the kids have been off and lovely holidays if you’ve been away.

August was a somewhat higgledly-piggledly month for us, what with the house move being a week later than expected (which threw our holiday plans right out of kilter); having no broadband for a few weeks (who knew how much you miss it!); sorting out the new abode, which involved several trips to Ikea for some storage necessities (wardrobes anyone?), plus one or two (ahem, maybe 3!) deliveries from ao.com.

So, there’s been loads to sort out, as is generally the case when you move of course, and been keeping Lee busy with all the flat-pack building!!

Just wanted to say thank you so much for all of your orders which have been coming in thick and fast since I got back to work last week. And also to say thanks for waiting so patiently during all of our moving upheaval and time off. I’m on the case, but it’s taking me a little longer than usual to process everything due to such an overwhelming number coming in at once. I’m not complaining of course, just loathe want to keep you waiting longer than necessary for your prints and images. The good news is that I’m starting to get on top of everything now it’s a week in, having enlisted help from my brilliant editing company with the final clean-up edit that I like to carry out on all images ordered.  So you should be receiving everything very soon, if indeed you haven’t already.

I must say, we are absolutely LOVING our new abode, it’s all coming together very nicely indeed and the traumas of the moving process have now been religated to the memory banks, thank goodness! It’s a very spacious flat, just minutes from the studio, so a perfect location, and several of you are my “nearly neighbours” which is lovely!

We didn’t get a “proper” holiday as such, but managed to squeeze in a couple of days out, including a lovely day out at the Great Dorset Steam Fair a couple of weeks ago, in amongst all the bedlam, which was very welcome – and fantastic weather! If you’ve never been, it’s well worth a visit when it’s on again next year. Something there for everyone!

Just a little advance notice, we’re also taking a week off 15-22 October so we can have some time away and chillax without the worries of moving taking over our break!

For now though, it’s back to normality, I’ve been really enjoying all your latest shoots and getting back in the studio, as well as several on location. Lots of variety and loving every minute!

Oh, and as I’m writing, Just a little shameless reminder … I do get booked up this time of year, especially at weekends, so if you are thinking in terms of photos for Christmas pressies, please book your slot as soon as you can!

Did someone say Christmas! Ouch, sorry 😉

Looking forward …

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So here we are then, 2017 is underway!

I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas. As usual it has flown by  – no sooner have the tree and decorations gone up, it’s time to take them down again!

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Decs Away!!!

It’s good though to get back to “normality”. I never did much like the few days between Christmas and New Year (and I don’t think I’m alone in this). After the franticness of December, the excitement and build up to the big day, the magic of Christmas Eve (always been my favourite day of the year and also happens to be our eldest son’s birthday) and of course Christmas Day itself, afterwards things seem a bit, er, flat.

Although I find the break a great opportunity to come up with new ideas for the year ahead and start putting the wheels in motion for them. This cheers me up no end; I really love this kind of research, especially when I discover stuff that is going to prove very handy. As indeed I have. I also have fun finding and trying out new apps and experimenting with creative effects to my heart’s content – a perfect chance to do just that – and of course I’ve fallen head over heels with a couple of new (to me) Apps which I’ll tell you about soon!

As well as the brainstorming, we had a fleeting visit to Marwell Zoo, to start making use of the annual membership I bought Lee for Christmas (and treated myself too!). We’ll really make the most of it I’m sure – so many amazing photo opportunities! It was a very cold and misty day, and lots of the animals not surprisingly were hiding away. So we only wandered round for an hour or two this time but it was great to blow away some cobwebs and have a nice brisk walk and there was still lots to admire and photograph. Wildlife is so fascinating isn’t it! Being so close to Marwell, it’s great that we can nip over there with our cameras whenever we have a spare hour or two. Here’s a few I took on Friday, I expect you’ll see one or two more in the next few months!

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This little bute very obligingly strolled slowly passed me several times so I could get a few good close-ups! Or maybe he was just thinking I’d make a good dinner … yikes!!!

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We also had our annual panto trip to the Mayflower on New Years Eve – oh yes we did!! (Sorry couldn’t resist that …) With it being a special night, we always treat ourselves to dinner in the theatre’s Ovation restaurant pre-show, which never disappoints. Did any of you see this year’s panto, Robin Hood, there? We had a good old giggle and joined in the banter, the effects were very clever too. Lee and I first met when we were in the back row of a panto chorus together, an amateur production in Sunbury-on-Thames, many moons ago. We did our fair share of pantos back in the day, so have some great memories – the shows were usually late January so the rehearsals and set building etc was a brilliant way to overcome any January blues!! So we still love to get our panto fix once a year – but from the audience rather than on stage these days!

I’ve had some great feedback already re the joy the pictures you bought as gifts have given when opened by your surprised loved ones on Christmas Day. That’s so nice to know 🙂 Thank you.

It’s really lovely to have lots of photoshoots and weddings in the diary already – so looking forward to seeing you all!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, may it bring you everything you wish for!

Beautiful Farnham Castle Wedding

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Wow!! As wedding venues go, Farnham Castle is definitely up there with the best!

Picturesque Farnham Castle

Picturesque Farnham Castle

You may remember, at the beginning of our holiday we had a wedding to go to; that of Maddie (the daughter of some close friends of ours) and James.  We were over the moon to take their photographs at this stunning venue. ‘Twas a busy day for sure, but such a joy to photograph a lovely couple in this amazing setting!

The castle is about 900 years old. Here’s a little history http://www.farnhamcastle.com/history/

The Old Gatehouse is where the bridal party get ready for the day ahead.
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The Gatehouse is designed perfectly for the purpose.  It has a comfy downstairs area; refreshments had been laid out here to keep everyone going throughout the morning. The hair and makeup ladies were hard at work in one of the upstairs rooms, with the dresses and shoes set out in another, which had glorious light streaming in, so great for photos to be taken.

Downstairs in The Gatehouse

Downstairs in The Gatehouse

Fantastic hair and makeup by the lovely ladies at Amore Makeup http://www.amoremakeup.co.uk/

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Proud mum looking on

Proud mum looking on

Whilst the girls were getting ready, we took some shots of the preparations going on in The Great Hall.

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Just had to take a picture of this tame little cat. He must live somewhere nearby – he was very friendly and amusing 🙂 As you can see was doing his best to trip up the videographer, Andrew, who it was great to meet and work alongside http://andrewcollin.co.uk/

Cat doing his best to trip up the videographer

James and his groomsmen arrived along with some guests and we took some shots as they chatted on the Great Lawn in front of the castle.

Great views of Farnham from the castle walls

Superb views of Farnham from the wall of the great lawn

It was back to the Gatehouse then – the beautiful bride was almost ready to go!

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Maddie’s mum and our good friend, Trudy, is a registrar and she had been granted permission to take the ceremony which made it particularly special.

Special moment for mum and daughter

Special moment for mum and her newly married daughter at the close of the ceremony

The ceremony took place in the Lantern Hall, which is a beautiful light and airy room http://www.farnhamcastle-weddings.co.uk/venue/the-lantern-hall/

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Beautiful flowers by Eden Blooms http://www.edenblooms.co.uk/

Everything certainly runs like clockwork at Farnham Castle – extremely well organised, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

After the ceremony, the guests are asked to line up along the main staircase, with a glass of Pimms in one hand, and a handful of confetti in t’other, and the bride and groom then mosey on down the steps being showered by confetti. A magical site to behold – and of course great to photograph!! We were told an amusing story of one occasion when a guest inadvertently threw their Pimms instead of the confetti at the bride and groom – oops!  I suspect wasn’t very funny for the bride and groom at the time!!! 

Luckily only the confetti got thrown on this occasion …

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Then it was a quick run upstairs for me to take the main group shot of the newlyweds and their guests in front of the castle from a top floor window – a perfect vantage point to get both the guests and the fantastic view across Farnham.

The gardens are beautiful, and lend themselves perfectly to the romantic bride and groom shots, and there is the added bonus of photographing the happy couple in the castle ruins too, with its wonderful ancient walls and amazing views.

A photographer’s dream!!

The wedding breakfast takes place in the 12th century Great Hall http://www.farnhamcastle-weddings.co.uk/venue/the-great-hall/  The meal is exquisitely presented – and delicious too! The balcony overlooking the Hall gives a splendid vantage point to take some pictures of the speeches, tables and later the dancing.

BIrd's eye view of the speeches!

A bird’s eye view of the speeches!

So it was into the early evening and there was a beautiful relaxed atmosphere as the bride and groom mingled with their guests in the castle grounds before cutting their cake and having their First Dance.

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Then it was dancing till midnight, and a hog roast feast just in case anyone was still peckish! Our photo props seemed to go down a storm and a good time was had by all.

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We stayed in the Castle overnight, and we were all treated to a generous continental breakfast the next morning in the brightly decorated library which was a super relaxing way to finish the celebrations.

For anyone out there researching wedding venues at the moment, Farnham Castle might be well worth a look!

Congratulations, Maddie and James! It sure was a fantastic day 🙂

Surprise, after surprise, after surprise …

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That’s right – a whole heap of surprises for my special birthday weekend! All I knew was to pack a case and jump in the car. After that, I had absolutely no idea where we were headed nor what had been planned for when we got there.

Very exciting 🙂

I was over the moon just to be spending a few days of quality time with our sons, which of course is fairly rare now they’re all grown up! So everything else was the big fat icing on a very lovely cake.

Lee had meticulously planned it all: he knows I’m not an adventurous ‘gal’ so obviously there would be no bunjee jumping or such like on the agenda!! And he also knows I love to holiday in the UK, which may seem dull to some, but I’m not one for boats or planes, so it’s perfect for me.

So I guessed I wouldn’t be needing a passport.

As the journey got underway and I knew the direction we were headed up the A34, I speculated quite a bit, but to no avail. Everyone stayed very silent in case they gave anything away!

An hour or two later,  Lee casually asked if anyone needed a break, and he obviously had Ryan primed to say yes, in case I didn’t! We turned off at the next junction and headed towards the town of Abingdon. It did seem a little odd to be taking such a long detour just to find a loo but I didn’t suspect a thing. In fact what I thought was going to be a quick stop at a services with maybe a coffee and sandwich, turned out to be a full blown lunch in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the water in a lovely place called The Nags Head (was he trying to tell me something 😉 ) in Abingdon.

River views

River views

After lunch we continued on our way. I had a couple of ideas by now of where we might be going but of course no one was saying a word.

Our next stop/surprise, slightly later than intended due to bad traffic, was Charlecote Park, a National Trust property in Warwickshire. Ah – I didn’t see that one coming!! Although it was late afternoon by the time we arrived we still had plenty of time for a look round the interesting house and pretty gardens.

 

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Then on to our destination for the weekend …. The fantastic Hotel LaTour https://hotel-latour.co.uk/ right in the centre of Birmingham. Wow! Very nice it is too. Just a stone’s throw by foot from the amazing Bull Ring shopping centre – which could be seen from our hotel room window – my idea of paradise haha !!!!

Hotel LaTour

Then followed all sorts of surprises over the weekend – a theatre trip to see Breakfast At Tiffanys starring Pixie Lott, afternoon tea at The Centenary Lounge, a charming Art Deco café, a trip down memory lane to the National Trust Back to Back Homes, lots of delicious meals, including my birthday special dinner at the Marco Pierre White Restaurant in the hotel. What a treat that was!! Lee had also factored in lots of time during the weekend’s itinerary for my favourite pastime – shopping!!! Thank goodness – Birmingham is a dream come true for shopaholics such as me!

Inside view and out of The Bull Ring Shopping centre

Inside view and out of The Bull Ring Shopping centre

The hotel lounge area was very relaxing with great live music playing, perfect for some delicious and (and far too “moorish”!) cocktails at the end of each evening. And also very comfortable for me to open my cards and pressies with the family on my birthday itself, Sunday morning.

Very colourful roses!

Very colourful roses and real too!

Monday came round all too soon, and it was homeward bound, dropping our youngest son and his girlfriend into Oxford en route.

As luck would have it, a lunchtime reunion had been arranged on the same day at the Coach and Horses in Kew with the girls I used to work with back in the late 80s (and mostly haven’t seen since) at Wang Computers. So we took a slight detour when we left Oxford to Kew and it was a very fitting end to my special birthday weekend to reminisce with them all and catch up on what they were doing all these years later – and the time in between! You know, everyone seemed exactly the same and it was as if those years just melted away!

So all in all an amazing weekend, fantastically put together by Lee.   It was a little strange not knowing where I was going next for the most part, but great to just be able to go with the flow and leave it all in his capable hands.

And I LOVED every minute of it!

 

https://hotel-latour.co.uk/

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/charlecote-park

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birmingham-back-to-backs

http://www.bullring.co.uk/

http://breakfastattiffanys.co.uk/

http://centenarylounge.com/

http://www.thenagsheadonthethames.co.uk/

 

 

 

Good Morning Britain and Lorraine – our “behind the scenes” tour

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On the famous sofa

On the famous sofa

Yes, that’s me sitting on the “Good Morning Britain” sofa between the lovely Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid.

And you may well be wondering how this amazing, and somewhat surreal, experience came about …

Well, back in February, Lee and I went to a fantastic ball organised by my friend Lynn in aid of the charity she set up ten years ago, Their Future Today http://www.theirfuturetoday.com/.  One of the prizes which had been donated for the silent auction was a “Behind The Scenes Tour” of Lorraine and Good Morning Britain.  As a surprise treat for me, Lee put in a bid … although he did come clean by the end of the evening and tell me about it.  To our amazement his bid was the winning one!

Now, after several months of anticipation, the date of our tour finally arrived. #Excited!!

We were up with the lark and caught the 5am train from Southampton to Waterloo – the only one that arrived in good time. It worked well as we had had chance to grab a quick breakfast at Waterloo before taking a leisurely stroll to the ITV Studios. No mad rush, thank goodness.

ITV Studios

ITV Studios

The tall and imposing ITV building suddenly appeared in the distance.  It looked familiar to us, having seen it on screen a few times.

We were greeted by a very friendly lady called Christine who was to be our guide for the morning. Our first stop was the canteen, which overlooks some great views of the Thames, and also of an adjacent studio from where This Morning is transmitted.

We were then shown the green room where guests on the show are looked after whilst waiting to be interviewed, fittingly just outside the door to the main studio where Good Morning Britain is filmed, so they can be quickly whizzed across when needed.

Next stop … we were allowed to quietly slip into the gallery where the producers and directors sit in front of a myriad of TV screens, each with a different job to do.  It was very interesting to watch them so efficiently at work; instructions were being fed into the earpieces of the presenters, and counting down the seconds to them until the next ad break or VT.   Fascinating for us to watch it all going on as the programme went out live.  There was a certain amount of tension in the air, but all very slick as you would expect.

We waited there until Good Morning Britain went off air; you could feel a kind of sense of relief in the room. Pressure off, and another show in the bag.

Christine then took us from the gallery and onto the Good Morning Britain set and introduced us to the presenters, Ben Shephard, Susanna Reid, who were still sat on the sofa having just finished the show, and Charlotte Hawkins, who strolled over to say hallo from the news desk.  They were all very welcoming and happily posed for some pictures with us and a quick chat before they headed off to their debrief meeting.

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The very bubbly Charlotte

Christine asked if she could use my phone to take pictures so we could be in all the shots!  We hadn’t expected that at all, I thought we might be allowed to take a couple of “selfies” with the presenters if we were lucky, so it was really great that she took over taking the photos as she of course knew which pictures were allowed.

The studio where Good Morning Britain is filmed is used only for that show at the moment, so once the presenters had left the studio, we were allowed to have a good look round – and as you can see, Christine took lots of photos of us in various areas of the studio.  It felt really strange being there, having seen it so often on the TV, and now being able to sit on the familiar cream sofa, and behind the news desk etc.

And now for the news ...

And now for the news …

Slightly bigger camera than I'm used to ;)

Slightly bigger camera than I’m used to 😉

2015-07-07 08.46.26 copy 2015-07-07 08.46.48 copy 2015-07-07 08.46.55 copyChristine then took us along to show us where hair and makeup are done, and then to the wardrobe dept, where the presenters’ clothes were neatly hanging.

So what to wear tomorrow then ...

So what to wear tomorrow then …

We loved the way all the lifts had different pictures on the doors.

2015-07-07 08.59.10 copyLorraine was now on air in another studio downstairs.  We headed down there and sneaked in behind the black curtain which surrounds the set where she was recording. Fashion stylist Mark Heyes was waiting to go on with with some models for the fashion feature. We were lead round to stand behind the cameras and got a birdseye view of Lorraine chatting to her guest, Levi Roots.

We stayed and watched whilst the rest of the show went out – Mark Heyes introducing the 4 models in various outfits.

Before we knew it, the show was over.  We were introduced to Lorraine, who was very friendly, and again Christine grabbed my phone to take a few shots.

Just as nice in real life

Just as nice in real life

It was quite a brief meeting with Lorraine as the studio has to be turned round very quickly to become the Loose Women set for later in the day, so there was no hanging round, it was all systems go!!

After all that excitement, we went back with Christine to the main reception, via the outside of the studio where there are several famous hand prints hanging on the walls. ITV’s own Hall of Fame.

Our grand tour was at an end. We said our thanks and goodbyes to Christine and headed out along the South Bank to spend the rest of the day exploring London.

Big thanks to Their Future Today for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity to have a fascinating glimpse into the world of live television!

Beforehand we had no idea of what the tour would actually involve; it far exceeded our expectations!

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Pooches, Pimms & Plenty of Sun

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Lynn congratulates the winning doggie and scenes from the day

Glorious sunshine and beautiful surroundings made for a fabulous afternoon at Hampton Court School summer fete – and in aid of a very worthy cause.

Their Future Today is a charity that my friend, Lynn, set up ten years ago, and has gone on to achieve so much since, which has been no mean feat.  Please take a look at the story if you can, it makes for very interesting reading http://theirfuturetoday.com/

We were there primarily to take pictures of the pooches in the dog show.  This was a little challenging in the heat … and of course, dogs being dogs 😉  But great fun all the same.  They each have their own special little characters and can do some really funny, and often unexpected things, which gave the spectators a good old giggle!

That’s the great thing about photographing animals – the spontaneity of it all!!

Once we’d finished taking the pictures, we had chance to wander round and enjoy the fete before we headed back up the M3.  ‘Twas very relaxing to have a natter, Pimms in hand, bask in the wonderful sunshine,  and listen to the band playing some pretty cool tunes.

Lee and I couldn’t resist treating ourselves to one of the beautiful paintings from the Art Fair.  We both fell in love with it and knew if we didn’t get it there and then, we’d have wished we had all the way home.  It was very reasonable too and looks great up in our lounge, so we’re very glad we did.

A most enjoyable afternoon for sure and a good time had by all 🙂

A trip down Memory Lane

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Think of an extremely steep, olde worlde cobbled street, donkey rides, and the best views of the sea you could ever wish for … and where might you be?

Yep, you’ve guessed – it’s Clovelly in North Devon of course – which is where we’ve been this weekend 🙂 We’ve been lucky enough to be asked to photograph a wedding there in a couple of months time, which is brilliant, so we took a little visit to meet up and look around with the lovely bride and groom-to-be, Karen and James!!

As wedding venues in the UK go, this would have to be up there as one of the most perfect settings.

DSC_3349     DSC_3360 It was a fabulous treat for us to have this opportunity and it also brought back some great childhood memories of the place.   Not a lot has changed about Clovelly since those good old days.  It’s still as charming as ever, and just like stepping back in time.

We stayed in the nearby Hoops Inn http://www.hoopsinn.co.uk/ which, by the way, we can highly recommend – the food is out of this world and our room was very comfy.  The Inn has a very warm atmosphere and the folk there are very friendly and welcoming!

We arrived late Saturday afternoon and managed to get drenched in a downpour as we took an impromptu fleeting visit to nearby Bude to meet a friend, so it was a great relief to wake up to the sun streaming in (1st March and spring is in the air!). After a delicious full English breakfast, we headed off to meet Karen and James at the historic All Saints church (built in 1200), where they will be tying the knot.

The church is set back from the road, a short walk away from the entrance to the famous cobbled street of Clovelly. The walk up to the church door is via a pathway arched by trees, quite beautiful, especially with the sun seeping through the branches.

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The church is built in typical Norman style; very quaint and obviously steeped in history. Great for sure but the hidden gem lay in the adjacent gardens – superb greenery with incredible views of the sea in the distance – talk about take your breath away!  Such a stunning backdrop for the wedding guest shots after the ceremony.

DSC_3305That in itself is a photographer’s dream, but then of course you have the more familiar part of Clovelly, which I’m sure many of you will know and love – personally I have very fond memories of it from childhood holidays – the steep hill, the donkeys (which aren’t about this time of year) and those famous cobbles.

Anyway, we headed off down the stoney path, soaking in the stunning views of the sea and scenery as we went, and naturally taking some shots of the happy couple and the views along the way. How amazing is this place!

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DSC_3347The picturesque harbour, with its fishing boats and cottages, is a fantastic sight as you reach the bottom of the hill.

DSC_3354 DSC_3352The reception is being held in the Red Lion, with its superb views across the harbour and out to sea.

DSC_3356DSC_3360After a good lunch and lots of chatting in the Red Lion, Lee and I said our goodbyes to make our way back to the car, which of course was parked back at the top of the hill.

Climbing back up the steep hill was my biggest challenge of the weekend; I really should get to the gym more (well get to the gym full stop really 😉 ) Fortunately we made to back to the top just BEFORE the heavens opened. We’d certainly timed our visit right, having had the best of the weather on the way down when we needed it most!

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So, all in all, an amazing weekend – can’t wait to photograph the “big day” itself!!!

Karen and James, we thank you 🙂