My Sunday Photo... Mr Pheasant visits for breakfast

At last it has happened...
Yesterday morning we had an unexpected visitor come to breakfast. 
(I was going to say we had an unexpected visit for breakfast, but that would just sound wrong).
Mr Pheasant finally braved it and entered our garden.
I suddenly noticed him pecking away under the sunflower heart feeder... overhead all the other little birds were busy devouring the seeds. 
Lots of the seeds were being spilt and landing on and around this pheasant, who didn't seem in the least bit bothered.
I wonder... if it rains sunflower hearts is that like a lottery win for a pheasant?

He certainly seemed happy to me... that is until he spotted me at the window.

When we last lived here, I remember one year we had a female pheasant visit along with her nine chicks. 
I hope this one likes what's on the menu and returns regularly.
It's a pity he didn't turn up in the hour of my RSPB Garden Bird Count last weekend. 
Ho hum... such is life.

I'm linking up with Darren over at Photalife where you can see masses of photography.
Just click on the link above to be transported.

Thanks once again for visiting and I hope you have a great weekend.

Wildlife Photography Workshop at Haddo House

I've been browsing through my many folders of photographs when I realised that I never got to share with you my participating in a wildlife photography workshop at a Scottish National Trust property.
I remember visiting Haddo House many years ago, but unfortunately I was on a mission this time, so didn't get to revisit inside the house. 
That will have to be for another day. 
Pretty spectacular isn't it?
(The above and below photographs are courtesy of the Haddo House website. I stayed in the grounds of the property so didn't really get to see the house or get a chance to take my own photos of it. If you'd like to visit Haddo House to check out all what's happening and there's always something going on, it really is worth visiting or if you're interested in it's history then click here.
The house was originally designed in 1732 so there's a lot of history!
Anyway more about the house perhaps on another day...we're off to join the intrepid trackers for a photo shoot of wildlife and to explore the extensive gardens and country park. Did I mention that there's also a tearoom in the old stable block too? 
That was where the group of enthusiasts met one Sunday morning back in May. 
Our professional wildlife photographer and cameraman was the delightful Cain Scrimgeour, who has filmed wildlife around the world - from Botswana to Peru. 
(He's produced films for the RSPB, Northumberland National Park, English Heritage, The Natural History Society of Northumbria. He's also worked as a specialist camera operator for ITV’s Tales of Northumberland with Robson Green so he's got quite a pedigree) 

After an initial introduction over a cuppa aided by some of Cain's fantastic photography we stepped outside. 
Here's Cain sharing some of his story's and showing different hides for experiencing nature up close and personal. 
As you can see it was not only informative but also a relaxed enjoyable workshop.
The thumb belongs to one of the group who very enthusiastically volunteered to demonstrate one of the hides. 
I hasten to add that I was not in fatigues or camouflager gear but did pass the initial talk about what was appropriate clothing to wear to get the best out of the landscape and not frightening everything within a 10 mile radius of my camera. 
So let's begin...
Bluebells... ahhh
I got slightly carried away here (click, click, click) then realised that although I'd thought to buy a complete new memory card for my camera, which would have allowed me to take gazillion's of pictures, unfortunately I hadn't thought to buy an additional battery. 
Is that the cardinal sin for a photographer I wonder, because if it is I'm guilty but I did my penance by feeling extremely foolish and totally embarrassed. 
I can promise you it'll never happen again that's for sure. 
But in the meantime, it was only a red flashing warning light... I still had power and I wasn't afraid to use it! 

Surprisingly to me there are rules (which Cain kindly explained) to follow when trying to obtain that perfect shot and I was far from the mark, but when your model refuses to co-operate and time is of the essence, then click that'll have to do for now. 
I enjoyed what I did take and surprisingly was quite pleased with my results. 
I'd like to nip back early one morning because although it was quite quiet and the wildlife seems to be quite relaxed with everyone around, it would be better with less people. 
As in the bluebell wood, this wild garlic patch held us captive for quite some time. 
I have numerous photos with bee's and insects etc in various angles of activity, but none unfortunately that are in focus. I was playing with all the various switches and dials on my camera 
(I know I should know what the technical terms are for all these things, but that just highlights that I point and shoot without all the theory behind me and hope for the best) 
I really must go on another photography course to get to grips with all these delicate maneuvers and technical terms. 
All I know is that at this stage the red battery low light was flashing...argh! 
Which believe it or not is slightly distracting. 
I have a soft spot for pheasants and actually did meet one at the gatehouse on the way into Haddo House, so when I saw this building that in it's past was devoted purely to housing pheasants I couldn't resist to take a snap.

At this stage I wanted to crawl under a stone myself, but the very kind and generous Cain handed me his camera to use!

Can you believe it. 
He's a fantastic guy and truly generous with not only passing on his knowledge, tips and ideas but his equipment too. 
Hero of the day.
I felt like I was being handed the crown jewels. I was so nervous to really put it through it's paces, although it was good to have a tinker of another make of camera. 
I was hoping like riding a well schooled horse in a riding stables that knows the ropes, the camera would just take the most amazing shots because that's what it knows best... not having some novice man-handling it as in my case. 
You could almost hear it tut! 

But thankfully the day wasn't spoilt... even with my stupid error of not having an extra battery tucked away about my person. 
It was fantastic and so enjoyable that I can really recommend getting out there with a group of like minded people 
(it's amazing what little snippets and tips you can pick up along the way) 

As usual I'm enjoying capturing anything that takes my eye, trying to remember all that Cain said and will continue to hopefully see some good results.
If you'd like to visit Cain's blog here's the link
I'm hoping to perhaps set up a gallery in my sidebar to show all of my favourite photos taken on my camera. 
That is if I can work out how to do it Emoji
In the meantime here's just a few for now
The fine looking bullfinch below was photographed in my sisters garden but I'm thrilled to say we now have our own pair of bullfinches visiting our garden too.
I hope you'll continue to visit... the kettle's never far from boiling and if you're lucky there might even be some home baked cakes on offer too. 
Until next time have a great day and enjoy your local wildlife.

Not exactly Wordless Wednesday

You're probably not going to believe this but last night I had a bath! 
I know that's a shocking statement to open up with this morning, but it's a big deal in my book. 
A bath is a real luxury for take time out...light a few candles...indulge in smelly's and bubbles etc takes effort and time, which I don't often indulge in, especially to treat myself. 
To shock you even more it's the first bath I've had in this house since returning last July! (Gasp)  Now steady on there before you back up in case of body odour or in disgust, let me tell you for the record that I shower daily. 
For regular visitors, you'll know that we've been having major renovations around here since we arrived back from Australia, one of which has been to bring the bathrooms from the 1980's to present day. It was wonderful to luxuriate in a bath (with ducks even...obviously not live though as I have my water way too hot) and appreciate just how far we've come. 
But we're not the only one's to benefit from the work that's been carried out around here. The birds certainly have become used to good pickings with feed stations dotted around the property. Yesterday I heard a commotion on the roof and discovered this family of swallows which appeared to be on their maiden flight. There were some dodgy flyby's and the odd thud of feathers on glass....but thankfully nothing serious.  But I've noticed that some of my new windows have been christened as did my car sunroof just after Hubby washed it at the weekend! 
I managed to capture some of the feeding.
Obviously our new gutters have full approval too. 
Note their sheen. 

It was amazing to watch the parents agility and I'm please that I managed to capture some of it on camera. I would have liked the better camera but that happened to be downstairs and I've come to learn you have to seize the moment. So many times have to gone to tell someone that we've a particular visitor or to retrieve a camera when the subject matter disappears. It can be so frustrating. 

I nearly managed to capture a Jay on the roof of the bird table yesterday, but he was too flighty for me. He has such amazing colours. Maybe I'll be more successful next time.
We've started to make a list of all the different birds that have visited the garden and we're up to 35. I know I can hardly believe it either. 
The jay is becoming a regular visitor now.
Like these guys...
I know I've tweeted about these guys before, but if you don't follow me on Twitter then you may have missed them. We've had them visit us for a about a month now and have had up to seven on the lawn at once. I've no idea where they've come from or where they go, but it's nice to have them drop in. They're brilliant at hoovering up all of the seed that's dropped to the ground from the feeder. If only I could train them to come indoors to carry on that would be something. 
For the eagle-eyed of you I know you'll have noticed the empty hanging basket hook but have no fear I'll be sorting that as soon as I find the time.
Yesterday I filled two large hanging mangers and I'll post their photo when the sun shines and they've settled in. 
(Another Twitter photo from during the's our Chelsea Flower Show inspired border. I'll let you see how it progresses as the summer works it's magic...hopefully!)  

I was busy working in the garden with Muffy lounging about watching over me (as she does) possibly sulking because I was digging and she gets a such a hard time of it when she tries. But I suddenly became aware that she was missing. 
On the mooch no doubt but nevertheless I started to call and check for her. 
Now she normally ignores my calls and waits until I've worked myself up into a lather before showing her face in some undergrowth, but this time she didn't appear! 
Panic started to rise when I'd done a complete circuit of the house and garden calling all the most successful things that usually work. I needed backup so called my son to come and help find her (this has happened on numerous occasions with him having to pole volt over the barded-wire fence to retrieve her). Anyway as he was getting shoes on etc I heard barking down the lane (unfamiliar barking but a bark all the same) and two cars were parked up. Not a good sign.
I frantically shouted to my son to head down the lane, whilst I checked out more likely spots on the peripheral
 of the garden. 
Just then a car turned into the driveway and a woman popped out to her boot and retrieved a completely oblivious pooch. 
Mufftypup had done a runner!
 Something that we just never thought would happen...had happened. 
Apparently, the woman stopped when she came across Muffy sitting smack bang in the centre of the lane. Muffy had followed a dog walker who's dog obviously must have had longer legs than her because she gave up after about half a mile. 
Too much hard work for a diva! 

The rescuer asked the dog walker if she knew Muffy but then when she didn't she decided to backtrack up the lane and thought our house was probably the best option. 
Nearest for one of little leg!
I couldn't thank the woman enough, hugging her whilst her dumbfounded little wee one's in the back of the car watched such a mad woman basically throwing a tizzy.
I went through all the various sinario's all afternoon and evening after that...she could have been run over, dognapped, dinner for numerous beasties like foxes and buzzards...oh I can feel the panic rising again so I'd better stop now. 
Here's the cheeky wee bissom out on one of our walks...nearly lost in the long grass. 
As you can see we'd have had great difficulty in finding here if she's gone further afield. 

I was going to link to a Wordless Wednesday today but then I'm writing less and less on my blog lately, so I thought I'd just have a natter this morning instead. 
I hope you enjoyed your visit.
Have a wonderful Wednesday...whether it's wordless or waffling!

The Girls Go To Chelsea Flower Show

Where on earth should I start today? 
Should I tell you about the wildlife photography workshop that I attended at the National Trust property of Haddo House, my trip to London to celebrate my sister's birthday, the Chelsea Flower Show, or the Gardening Scotland Show to name but a few? 
I knew it was going to be tough to write a post after such a long break, especially with so much happening recently, but in my usual procrastinating way I delayed coming online for that very reason....even though I've missed blogging so much, (which I have to admit is a little scary) but the house is completely quiet and other than Mufftypup curled up near me I'm home alone! 
So there's no excuse...
Maybe I should just pick one and run with it?
How about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show? 
Visiting Chelsea Flower Show has been something that I've wanted to do for many years. 
I've often chatted with my sister and daughter about arranging a trip one day. 
So when I returned to the just had to be done. 
The timing was perfect, plus it was going to be my sister's special birthday so there was nothing for it...we had to go!
I should state here and now that when my sister and I get together there's giggles and laughter and this trip was no exception. My poor daughter had a lot to contend with and she tried to control us, although I secretly think she got as much out of the trip as we did...although alcohol may have helped.
But enough of that for now...(what goes on tour stays on tour eh? Emoji)

Lets take a look around at the gardens...
 I'm aware that I could go crazy posting masses of photos here, but there's only so many hours in a day and I'm not sure how long you're able to I'll edit as best I can. 
It's going to be tough though.

As we entered the show gardens we were thrilled to meet Monty Don filming for the BBC. 
("Monty" Don is an English television presenter, writer and speaker on horticulture, best known for presenting the BBC television series Gardeners' World)
Okay now here's a secret that I'm prepared to share with daughter 'loves' Monty! It's true I'm not making it up. 
There backatcha sweetie for writing about taking 'The Olds' to Chelsea on your blog. 
(If you'd like to see some more of the show and get a different angle from a 'Youngie' then pop over to her blog by clicking here) I've had the foresight to strike up a deal that if any of my followers stop by and leave a comment then I'll receive payment in chocolate! 
Anyway...back to Chelsea and some amazing sights that captured our attention
The first photo of the wellies (wellingtons/galoshes) was actually a shop outside the show ground but I just loved them. 
On to the Gorilla photo. This was just amazing because everything on this particular display was made with masses of tiny rosebuds.  
The fragrance permeating the air was incredible. 
There's even an elephant behind too. 
The third photo of the horse sculpture just stopped me in my tracks. 
As you may already know, I love wood but thankfully this fabulous sculpture was already sold. (Phew that was a close one!)
And finally the gorgeous lady in red with the fabulous floral bonnet. 
(No she's not my sister just in case you were wondering)
I can't show any photos of ourselves as most are not for public consumption. 
We're either crying laughing or as on a few photos for example when 'Operation Downpour' got underway look incredible...but not in a good way HA!
We wore green plastic poncho's and I'm now thinking green may not be my colour! 
(Eek...I've just had a thought that my daughter may get her own back on this, by posting a photo. She is in all the photo's too, but then she looks great in hers (sigh)

One thing that we noticed whilst visiting all the show gardens there was a general colour palette. I have decided to turn one of my borders into a Chelsea lookalike border. 
I'll post and show the results as and when.

I kept an eye out for Alan Titchmarsh but I didn't see him. 
Here's a photo of his garden below which he designed with Kate Gould named 'From the Moors to the Sea' to celebrate 50 years of Britain in Bloom and Alan's own 50 years as a professional gardener. It depicts Alan's gardening journey in England having begun on Ilkley Moor as a boy and at present on the Isle of Wight.
You may just be able to see the wooden signpost in the background which leads up to the moor part of the garden. There's also the beach to the left of the photo and the summer house which depicts the writing side of Alan's life now. 
Did I mention that I've actually met Alan Aberdeen. 
It was a few years back at one of his book signing events. 
He was such a lovely man, so friendly and polite. 
I do have photos but they are the old fashioned kind and hiding in a box somewhere in my spare room, along with thousands of others that one day I hope to bring into the light once more. 
I really can't do justice here to all of the exquisite show gardens so maybe it might be best if you are wanting to see more then visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show website. 
They do a much better job than me. 

I loved this first photo below on the left of Togenkyo - A Paradise on Earth designed by Ishihara Kazuyuki which won the award for Best Artisan Garden. 
It's beautiful with the water wheel and did you notice the fantastic moss balls on the wall. I've got plenty of moss in my garden but unfortunately nothing so artistic. 
The top right photo is the Gold winning Potters Garden (Monty was interviewing in this garden shown above). It was inspired by the WW1 centenary and the fabulous restoration of The Farnham Pottery at Wrecclesham. The detail in this garden was amazing from the tin hat collecting water to the bullets in the path. 
And finally the bottom right photo was one I took for my hubby. He's a keen cyclist and if you look closely there are wheel rims designed into the wall. 
Here are a few things that I wanted to bring home with me. 
I know the heron would have been a challenge because he was over six foot tall but the greenhouses were a definite no no! (sob sob)  
Although I did want to buy this beautiful greenhouse that's not me going inside...I had been warned that if I entered one more greenhouse, then I would be escorted out of the show ground. The Youngies can be ever so bossy at times especially when it's getting late and the tummy's rumbling. 

And finally the stars of the whole show...
The Chelsea Pensioners
(Photo courtesy of RHS Chelsea Flower Show website)
The Chelsea Flower Show is held within the grounds of the Royal Hospital which for over three hundred years, the Royal Hospital Chelsea has provided a welcoming home and a way of life for thousands of soldiers in their old age. 
Now I've only got to wade through the masses of information brochures that I collected during the day
It was as Wallace and Gromit might say...A Grand Day Out! 
I think it might be something that has to be done each year from now on.

Just a gentle reminder from a chocoholic...please remember that I could be knee deep in chocolate if you pop over to daughters blog ~ thanks!