2023 May

misty start to the day
misty start to the day

May started with the Spring booster shot for Covid. It seems we are on the list for Insch for the Covid shots now. It’s not the easiest place to get too, being very rural roads – but the little cottage hospital is quite the nicest and most friendly vaccination centre we’ve been sent to.
But the vaccination shots are always a struggle for my PVS/ME. A couple of days in bed with mainly liquids and sleeping – that’s the ‘knock-out’ – followed by a week or two to get back to some level of energy, sleeping, and eating. The big challenge is to take it slowly. I feel OK for an hour or two, and try to do too much!

It has been a very slow start this year … winter has dragged on and on. It started early in the autumn, and hasn’t released it’s grip fully yet.

back rockery

As May progresses the season does seem to be changing to the ‘summer’ pattern. The back rockery has really taken off, and is spilling over with colour! The temperatures are rising!

In the front garden we have our fragrant yellow hedge of Azalea Luteum spilling over with bright colour! It has taken years of careful work to reach this state, and we are quite proud with the results!

yellow azalea luteum

The temperature’s improving, but there’s no rainfall. It looks like we will be repeating last year, when we had to get out the hosepipes and start to water round the most vulnerable plants. It was tiring, but essential to keep the garden alive!
With the return of some warmth and sunshine, we also have a chance to discover just how bad the damage is in the garden after the 8 months+ of ‘winter’. There’s a lot of freezer burn on all the bushes, and quite a few of the smaller plants have perished. Not a pretty sight! And the drought that is shaping up will not make recovery easy.

white rhododendrons

But as the month progresses the rhodies and smaller azaleas bring wonderful colour back into our garden and lives! I have a yellow azalea luteum under my bedroom window. Its fragrance is so welcome.

The top layer of the front garden is full of the red, white and yellow of the azaleas and rhododendrons. The colours are so bright and cheerful.
But soon they will be past their best and the potentillas will take over!

The front garden in May

It is time to move the geraniums and other plants that we have over-wintered in the hallway back out into the shelter of the porch, where they can catch the morning sunshine.

As the warmth, sunshine and dry conditions persist we can finally think about taking a look at the world around us, and collecting some photos along with the fresh air and exercise!

Goldie filter infrared Fyvie path

I took one of my Infrared cameras with me when we finally managed to spend a morning in Fyvie Castle gardens. The harsh winter has taken a toll, with so much of the pathways overgrown with weeds.

There are still so many signs of Storm Arwen! It devastated so many trees. But there are still some standing proud! The other sad thing is the Avian Flu which means we cannot feed to ducks!

infrared Fyvie trees
Daphne in a miniature vase

The indoor shooting is never laid aside! Here I was determined to capture the Daphne bush with its delicate star-like pink flowers. And a Yuta Segawa Japanese miniature vase is the ideal companion!

And there is always the fascination with light and glass prisms and spheres! Here with a backdrop of a blue patterned winter scarf. The play of light, and a bit of post-processing too!

Blue lensball

And so on to June, and
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2023 April

4 generation of iPhones
4 generation of iPhones

I decided to dedicate this month’s Journal to the world of technology, and how it has impacted my/our lives, especially since the pandemic – though the changes started a while before with the move from Windows XP to Windows 10.
It has been a seismic shift for so many of us, and a shift that will be permanent, I think. The speed of change that has been forced on us has been hard to keep up with.

I considered myself quite ‘tech-savvy’ before Covid hit – I’d been running websites since the mid 1990s, both personal and about the developing hand-held computers … the forerunners of mobile phones. I was interested in the personal computer dimension more than the phone aspect, as I was disabled and housebound. So I bought the very first iPod Touch.

iPod Touch and earbuds

The operating system was the same as the first iPhone, which made life easier later on! Seen here with earbuds and several iPods, crammed with music.

By the time mobile phones really took off, several operating systems were familiar to me!

I’d also had a keen interest in the technology of CDs, DVDs and their tape-based forerunners. I’d been a Walkman user since the early 1980s, and a keen user of digital music ever since …. taking music with me wherever I went.

Music, podcasts and radio recordings were loaded onto my iPods, and played through speaker ‘docks’. Of course the ‘docks’ usually needed to be plugged into a wall socket – so not really portable!

iPod Touch and Klipsch dock

So by 2019 I was well equipped with digital machines, and quite familiar with a range of home and online services and personal players. I’d even ditched my old Nokia phone, and moved to the iPhone, starting with the iPhone 5!
We had just bought our first smart TV, and our PCs and laptops were all hooked up to the internet. I’d been posting to the photographic website Flickr since 2012 – so I guess I was quite well prepared when Covid hit us as 2020 began!

Now the world changed in ways we weren’t expecting, and the pace of change accelerated. Shopping online was something we were used to – living remotely it was always an essential for us. So we had some existing accounts we could use. But with lockdown it became essential to order everything online, even the weekly grocery shopping trips were forbidden! We were all now prisoners in our own homes.
We were luckier than most, in having a good sized garden for a little exercise. But being in the ‘shielding’ group, at least initially, we couldn’t ‘stray’ further. And the links to the outside world by phone and mainly by Wi-Fi broadband became increasingly important.
Online banking, online shopping, emailing – all had been part of our lives before – but they became the only means of conducting our lives.

Perhaps the biggest technological ‘leap’ came with the development of the smartphone Apps. There is now an app for almost everything! I didn’t expect to be conducting banking business, or paying bills by smartphone. I was used to using the computer for financial transactions … but surely not my iPhone? But yes – it has become possibly the most essential piece of technology most of us need to function in 2023!

Apple watch iPhone etc
My Apple ‘kit’

It has been an accelerating (and very expensive) journey through the Covid years! And now, in what we call our “post-covid” year(s) I find myself fully equipped with an iPhone that can ‘talk’ to the world, read the news, alert me to the next refuse collection, or local roadworks, pay bills and play music, listen to the radio or watch TV. A watch that can monitor my health as well as tell the time, tell me the weather and alert me to emails, iMessages and so much more. Airpods that can give me all the quality of sound reproduction I could get from a speaker dock, and silently so as not to disturb Mike.
All told, 2019 seems a long time ago, and another way of life!

And so on to May, and I turn my mind to summer
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2023 March

glass and prisms
Colourful with glass and prisms

March is so often the grey and bleak tail-end of winter. As the snow comes and goes, the slush and rain take over. And here the farmers begin to plough fields ready for Spring sowing. The trees are still bare, and the colours all so drab!
So our long winter continues. This is the 6th month when it has been so cold we need the central heating on 24/7. It is truly a bleak and brutal winter. I’ve been looking for both warmth and colour through the lenses of my camera. And I’ve chosen glass and prisms set against a bright orange scarf to offer a warm alternative to the outside world!

Turriff park lake

After so many years we have ‘discovered’ Turriff park and lake!
Although it is still colourless and cold there, I took my Lensbaby (the ‘original’ I started with in 2013) and added some lensbaby fly-away effects to the winter lake.

Looking across the howe from our garden, and using a telephoto lens to catch the sun brightening the world and revealing the winter white that still dominates our lives!

winter across the howe

Most mornings start with scraping ice off the cars, spreading grit and salt on the slippery paths, feeding the birds as well as we can, and keeping the ice off their water dishes.
Then curling up and keeping warm indoors, wrapped up in quilts and sipping hot drinks.

dried hydrangea petals

With our world still dominated by winter the garden is low on photographic interest. Here dried flower heads from our blue ‘mop-head’ hydrangeas are caught as the sun melted the ice on the petals (using my oldest Helios lens)

A real snow storm in early March, caught this time with the Zeiss Makro 50mm lens. Again the dried flower heads of the hydrangea – looking so different in the background bokeh!

March snow in the garden

I move as many planters as possible indoors to overwinter – many of them my delicate pink geraniums.

unexpected March blossom

And they occasionally reward me with a fresh and delicate flower to cheer the indoor world, and provide me with a lovely subject to shoot! Here with one of my newest miniature Japanese vases.

And being confined to the warm indoor world, I search through my ever growing store of photo props to celebrate each new day! I bought a large collection of marbles on eBay one year. Always a delight to shoot.

balancing a marble

I decided to concentrate on my internal world this month, rather than the external and political events that continue to swirl around us. Together with books and music my photography forms the bedrock of my creative life. We have each other – which is the absolutely essential bedrock on which everything else is built. And we have been so lucky to be able to support each other through the long (and ongoing) pandemic experience. We do feel the impact, especially in energy terms – the stresses are always leaking energy. I suspect we are all on the edge of exhaustion as we contemplate the coming months!

And so on to April, and I turn my mind to more technical matters!
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2023 February

miniature bench with hearts
miniature bench with hearts

It ‘s not often I give a nod towards celebrating Valentine’s Day …. the commercialisation that has developed around it is not to my taste. But this year we all seem to be feeling the fragility of life, and the importance of our close relationships. So I’ve been shooting some heart-shaped images. Here using the miniature bench I found recently.

There’s something haunting about this image that appeals to me. The bench, sitting in the sunshine surrounded by nothing but shadows is poignant. And my mind made a link with the current major news event – a massive earthquake in Turkey and Syria. The complete devastation of entire towns and cities – and the plight of those homeless ‘lucky’ survivors lost in a world of rubble.

February began here with wild storms, which brought back memories of last year, when we were recovering from Storm Arwen, and counting the cost in every way, especially health. Six days with no power left a long legacy – it took many months to recover, and feel warm again. This year we have got more emergency supplies in store, but are apprehensive about a bad winter.

The other thread that runs through everything is the run-away inflation. Managing the running costs of our home, keeping warm and properly fed – these were not things we expected to be concerned about in the 21st century. But I find myself recalling my early childhood when rationing was a major part of daily life, and the everyday budget was always to the forefront of my mother’s mind!
13 years of Tory ‘austerity’ have cut the UK to the bone – there is no excess meat on the bone! Add in Brexit, and we were on our knees as a nation before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The best we can do is to keep a close eye on the finances, and try to keep a healthy and optimistic frame of mind! Plenty of rest, plenty of binge watching using our smart TV, and as much photography as possible!

miniature vase and hydrangea

Using my favourite old Helios 44-2 lens, shooting one of my newest miniature vases from Yuta Segawa with just a few wisps of last year’s hydrangeas. Set in the cool winter sunshine.

One of my fun ways to enjoy indoor (winter) shooting is to play with everyday things such as cutlery, and enjoy experimenting with their bright surfaces!

back of the spoon hearts

One thing that is a direct consequence of the pandemic is that I have lost touch with all my assorted cameras and lenses! I have collected so many lenses, and several makes of camera too over the 11+ years of photography. Lenses for all kinds of subjects, all kinds of weather, and all manner of optical effects.
As 2020 began we suddenly found ourselves in lockdown and ‘shielding’ too. Suddenly the extent of my photographic ‘canvas’ shrank to indoors. As the warmer weather came our favourite places to walk and shoot were closed. Activity, exercise, and photographic opportunities were virtually nil!
And over those 3+ years I have had cameras and lenses that have never (or only rarely) seen the light of day. I have begun to consciously choose a couple of ‘unused’ lenses to work with, but I am finding that it takes more than a week or two to re-familiarise with a lens! I need longer to be able to effortlessly get the kind of results I could pre-pandemic!
So my current lenses are Lensbaby optics (several optics on 2 NEX-6 bodies) and Helios 44-2 and 44-M on NEX-6 and NEX-7 bodies.

macro clock spindle

This is a Lensbaby Sweet 40 with added 8mm macro ring. Usually the Sweet 50 would be a ‘go to’ lens for walking around Leith Hall gardens or Fyvie Castle.

And this is my oldest Helios lens, a 44-2 that is frozen at F2. Here catching ice droplets on the Japanese plum tree by our gate. No buds yet, but I am beginning to get the lens outdoors once again!

sunshine bokeh

The 3 cameras I have kept using all through the pandemic are my main macro camera, A Sony 77m2 with the 100mm tele-macro lens – an original Sony RX100 – a Sony RX10m3.
Yes – I am a Sony camera lover!
So the addition of the two specialised lenses has kept me busy since last Christmas. I’ve still got a lot more to explore, with the lenses and additional macro rings. But I feel I am making a start!

winter trees in B+W

Here using the Lensbaby double glass optic for a landscape shot across the howe. The typical lensbaby focus and fly-away blur. Just walking along to the Kirk. Rendered in B+W.

And my ‘go to’ lens for shooting across the howe – the Sony RX10m3. Usually much used to shoot during trips up the coast, or at Leith Hall, where there are good distance shots to be had.

February dawn
view of a stormy morning

And my main way of recording the landscape as we drive along (mainly going shopping!) The RX100. In all kinds of weather, travelling at speed, it can capture such amazing images!

And so February has passed, with me trying to keep warm, cheerful and active. Avoiding the news is a significant positive step! There is little I can do to effect what goes on in the country or in the wider world. Luckily we have had no power cuts, so both Sky Box and smart TV streaming channels have kept us both entertained!

On to March – the indoor winter experience
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2023 Vision

Looking at 2023
Looking at 2023

And so 2023 begins.
This it the third year of my online Journal, and each year has confounded my thoughts as I sat and looked into the possible shape of the coming months. Maybe weaving plans and expectations for the year ahead is not really a wise move!
But it’s a natural, human thing to do … to make shapes of the future, and to make stories of our past. Maybe all journals should be written only in retrospect.
I confess that I have fewer ideas about what lies ahead in 2023 – fewer than I expected I’d have. The last 3 years have completely shaken up all our plans and expectations. I guess that is the nature of a pandemic – a global event that reshapes the world. All I can do is describe where I am now, where the UK is now, and where the wider world is now … as seen from this small corner of the Scottish highlands.

Personally we (Mike and I) still treat the pandemic as active, along with ‘flu and several other winter infections. So we live a quiet life of ‘shielding’ and wear masks when shopping etc. This is unusual now, as most people try to act as if the pandemic is over. But cases are still fluctuating, and the advice in Scotland has changed to mask wearing in crowded public places – ventilation and social distancing.
There is no functioning NHS. Under-funded and overstretched for 13 years it is collapsing around us. Indeed all public services are collapsing: teachers, local government workers, train drivers, social care workers … so many are striking after 13 years of ‘austerity’ which meant pay freezes all round.
The tipping point came in the final months of last year, as rocketing inflation has driven more workers to need Food Banks to even eat minimally. The UK government is doing nothing, waiting for ‘public opinion’ to turn against the strikers, and the strikers to be starved back to work.
It sounds Dickensian, doesn’t it …. and it feels Dickensian too, living through it!

January …and the journey begins with some new delights.
February …… and re-awakening some dormant cameras!
March ….. and the indoor winter experience
April …. and a look at how Covid had changed our tech. lives
May … and it is shaping up to be another drought and heatwave

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2022 September

calendar for September
calendar for September

A month that started with the heatwave and the drought, and then the rain came …
Saving water, and using every drop from the house to keep the garden alive … that’s how September began. It was so dry that one of the barn swallow nests collapsed. There was nothing we could do to help – the nest was just too dry, it disintegrated. The fledglings had learnt to fly, which was a relief – but we wonder if they will return next year!
Then on September 5th we had some rain! 15mm over 3 days – the first signs that maybe the hot dry season was ending!

For several months we have been organising and planning for the coming winter. Storm Arwen last November-December, and our week with no power, no connectivity and no way to keep ourselves properly warm have etched into our minds just how vulnerable we are here. It took months before we felt our body core temperature was restored – and we vowed never again to trust the electricity company (SSEN) to tell the truth and address the situation. So we have been adding to our “resilience” stores all year – and topped up our coal this month. Sadly it might be our last top-up, as coal is now becoming too expensive both to import and to buy!

Technology has also thrown up problems for me this year. My large 8TB EHD failed, and I dropped my main portable EHD that I use to connect the desktop with my laptop. Big expense and many hours retrieving data. My desktop USB ports also failed and refused to connect … so work-arounds are needed there. It seems to be a season of technology jinx. My machines are all 3 or 4 years old now – and that seems to be when the problems begin to mount up!

September also saw a few more of our pre-pandemic routines restored. Eye tests, last done over 2 years ago, were accomplished. And new specs ordered. And I had the first tooth extraction since wisdom teeth as a student. A very ‘soft’ diet for several weeks!

And of course the Queen died on September 8th.
In a jaw-dropping return to medievalism the entire country came to a grinding halt for 2 weeks of mourning! As a long-time republican I was hoping it would be time to look again at the whole question of having a monarchy … but no debate was permitted, and the whole anachronistic cavalcade rolls on. All semblance of government addressing the major problems of energy supplies and rampant inflation were abandoned, and all news coverage within the UK was restricted to the medieval pageantry.

I’m trying stop buying flowers, as they are becoming so expensive! But can’t resist gladioli!

macro of gladiolus flower

For so long I believed “Dame Edna” the fictional creation of Barry Humphries, that gladioli were just to be sneered at! How wrong I was – they are both beautiful and extremely photogenic!

I’m bringing in a small ‘something’ to shoot each day – and have made a new Flickr album “From the garden”. Snail shells and feathers, fallen leaves, flowers and berries …

We have a large rowan tree in the garden, close to the patio – and every year a profusion of bright red berries adorn the tree, and then carpet the flagstones! I’ve never tried making rowan berry jelly … must try it!

a basket of rowan berries
Victoria Plums

The other fruit-bearing tree we have is a Victoria plum. And come September we are awash with plums – plenty for all the birds and insects as well as enough to make plum sauce for the freezer!

And September saw some new additions to my collection of miniature vases, created by Yuta Segawa. I find them perfect for small still-life photography. Here with some hydrangea petals from the garden.

new green Yuta Segawa vase

Ways to entertain myself, to keep the creative impulse alive is always a challenge as the weather and general stamina (and Covid) keep me limited to the house and garden. So the weekly Flickr challenges always keep me looking again at the everyday things around me.

Book shelves

There are so many corners, doors, shelves and cupboards that are just overlooked – they become so familiar I rarely think of using them as a subject for a close look through my cameras! Here the Flickr challenge was “Libraries and Books”.

Another challenge was “I love to …..” and my non-photographic absorbing pastime is watercolour painting. I want to learn enough to paint like Cezanne! Well – to paint what I want using Cezanne as my guide to technique!

art room workspace
Small bonsai scissors

The macro lens is one of my favourites. It can (just like a microscope) take you places where the naked eye strains, or simply cannot reach. Composition plays its part in any shot – but here a pair of very small bonsai scissors becomes something special.

The kitchen is a treasure-house of subjects to shoot – especially in macro. Here sunlight falling on a humble cheese-grater transforms the metal into a dancing bokeh. Yes – inspiration is all around … though sometimes it is easy to lose sight of it.

cheese grater bokeh

And sometimes I just take things from my treasured collections … and make pretty pictures! This lovely perfume bottle was a charity shop find.

still life with perfume bottle


Along with a birthday present David Andersen brooch and some geranium flowers it makes something pleasing to my eye – and satisfying to my creative urge to seek out beauty and record it….

And so on to October, where autumn begins, and the summer heat is but a distant memory!

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2022 August

calendar for August 2022
Calendar for August 2022

The heatwave that has been dominating the summer across the Mediterranean bringing record-breaking temperatures, drought and wildfires has spread north throughout Europe and finally arrived in the UK. August saw our local Aberdeenshire area feeling just a little effect in comparison, but it was enough for me! according the Wiki

“The 2022 United Kingdom heatwaves were part of several heatwaves across Europe and North Africa. The United Kingdom experienced three heatwaves; the first was for three days in June, the second for three days in July, and the third for six days in August. These were periods of unusually hot weather caused by rising high pressure up from the European continent. There were also more grass fires and wildfires than average, and in August a drought was declared in many regions”.

We found our daily pattern was to move our planters from the overnight shelter of the porch to the patio each morning to catch the shade at the back of the house … and then by late afternoon they were all moved back to the porch as the sun blazed down on the back garden. Chasing the shade cast by the house itself was the name of the game!
Every drop of water we could collect from indoors was used for the planters too. Trying to keep little water pans scattered across the garden for the birds, and putting out apples each day was the best we could do to help the birds.
We had to move the cars to catch a little shade, and open their windows too … as the metal baked. Temperatures outdoors were in the high 30s at some point each day, and overnight didn’t dip below 20c.

Every window and door was open to the max. trying to get some circulation of cooler air. Not very successful as our houses are built and designed with heat retention in mind, not heat dispersal. I slept with just a cotton duvet cover (no duvet inside) and windows as wide open as possible … but sleep was difficult. We ate less, cooked very little and drank lots of water! As August passed and the temperatures moderated we were so grateful … just a taste of what most of Europe was enduring …. but enough for us!

It all meant that at least half the month was spent on dealing with the heat, and little else was accomplished. And we emerged from our brush with the heatwave feeling exhausted and low on sleep! So there wasn’t a great deal of interest to report!
I tried to keep my photography going, with different lenses recording the local scenes.

Infrared landscape

Using my infrared camera here to record the barley field across the road from us. I use infrared mainly for landscape shooting, and like my other landscape lenses it has been little used since the pandemic began!

Looking the other way from the farm gate, back up to the Kirk. The IR filter here is the 720nm, which gives a soft, gentle effect, and allows a little colour to enter the image.

Infrared local landscape
B+W Doorway at light

Another way to combat the heat was to shoot at night when things are cooler! Still too hot for comfort, as our windows don’t open very wide. But the front door looks inviting!

One thing I miss is my collection of sun-specs. When my eyesight was 20/20 I had some elegant and unusual sun specs. Now it is one pair of varifocals with light-sensitive lenses. Not quite the same!

Sun specs
Guitar abstract

My Flickr groups keep me alert with weekly challenges. Here a macro group asked us to shoot ‘sound’. This is guitar strings in the bright sunlight, seen up close from an unusual perspective.

And another macro shoot brought me close-up to my pink geraniums. As well as keeping them well watered and in the shade, they are also beautiful photography subjects!

pink geraniums
Agapanthus flowers

It’s not often I can find agapanthus flowers – these ones came from the supermarket. shooting them is a real challenge, as they have such an amazing flower-head!

One thing that I wanted to do was to celebrate my friend Laurie’s wonderful creative work with Japanese temari balls. While she was here in May she made me two new balls, and the making of one of them is described briefly here. It gives just the smallest hint of the skill and complexity of the art form.

making a temari ball
making a temari ball

And so on to September, when the world here cools down!

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2022 July

July 2022 cover
July 2022 calendar

Emerging from the 3 months of extra energy demands … in July we hoped for an energy rebound and to emerge refreshed and ready to enjoy the summer with our usual annual visits to our favourite spots both inland and along the coast. But I had forgotten just how long it can take for ‘recovery’ with ME/PVS.
So July was a struggle to recover any energy at all.

The biggest impact on my health and energy levels is always STRESS and this year stress has been all around me.
For as long as I have had ME/PVS I have tried to ignore external stresses, as they can be the most damaging, as chances are that I can’t do anything about them. So a somewhat selfish, blinkered approach to the wider world has proved therapeutic for me! Not what I want … as I studied politics, economics, sociology and social philosophy at university back in the day! But I live as carefully and patiently as I can with ‘Post Viral Syndrome’. Stress is the most difficult problem to control – I can stop myself from overexertion, work to improve my sleep pattern, make sure I eat wisely and take my essential NADH. But external stresses can be like trying to catch the mist in your hand!
Incidentally I see Long Covid as just the latest Post Viral Syndrome, and maybe the one that will wake people up to the wider picture!

This entire year has seen a steady increase in stressors – levels of Covid infection with Omicron running unchecked – the war in Ukraine – Spring and summer droughts that are getting worse each year – spiralling inflation with food, petrol, and energy costs increasing. And as the summer continues we are promised heatwaves, wildfires and water shortages.

So my focus has been on the smallest of things! The world of home and garden, and of course, expressed through photography.

yellow potentilla

Bringing in flowers from the garden to shoot together with my collection of miniature Japanese vases is a way to celebrate the joys of having a good size garden.

The potentillas are all colours, and form colourful hedges throughout the whole garden. These are mainly hardy Abbotswood, and seem to thrive even in our cold northern climate.
And the miniature vases I have collected are beautiful hand-thrown, glazed gems by Yuta Segawa . I have an album of photos using these vases on my Flickr site here

More potentilla, this time edging a path, and also softening the lines of the small walls that divide the front garden into 3 layers. They flower well into autumn.

white and pink potentilla
white fuchsia in a vase

A great delights this year is the addition of a white fuchsia bush. I’ve tried for years to grow fuchsias and failed, but this hardy Hawkshead variety has withstood frost, heat and drought! Here with a Yuta Segawa vase.

It may seem silly, but you really start to appreciate simple grass when the drought begins to bite! Luckily we have had enough nights with mist and morning dew to keep most of our grass green!

daisies and grass

The entire summer in the garden has been dominated by the drought. Not as severe as in parts of England, but our local river, the Ythan, has been flagged as in danger. Farmers have been warned about taking water from it for irrigation. No hosepipe ban, but we have a routine for collecting any useable water from indoors into buckets and using it to water plants and planters. As long as it doesn’t have detergents, soap etc. we can use it! Yes, it takes time and patience, but it has helped the garden to survive thus far!
And indoors, with my cameras?

cherries

Well, anything and everything that catches my eye.
I use Flickr challenges to keep me looking for interesting ways to shoot the daily events and things around me.

I frequently shoot with macro lenses, and they can give an interesting perspective on even the most mundane of items! Add a little sunshine and a reflective surface …

push-pins
gladioli

And yes, I do still sometimes buy flowers from the supermarket. But as the inflationary spiral continues, it is an occasional indulgence. I admit that gladioli are one of my weaknesses! They are so amazing …

But a dried hydrangea flower found under a bush can make a wonderful macro subject! Again with added sunshine and cast shadows … just as beautiful as when it was ‘alive’.

dried hydrangea petals

And of course I never stop shooting the landscape. We have wonderful skies, and I can capture both sunrise and sunsets even though we are in the howe (valley) of the Ythan.

the colourful sky
playing with the colourful evening sky

Here I played with a sunset shot, using Photoshop (yes – post-processing is a vital part of digital photography!) Transforming the sky with imaginary colours of the aurora borealis. Great fun!

But to end on a more serious note. I was thinking about the stresses of not just this month of July. A very personal stressor for me has been the supply of my essential ME. ‘medication’. In recent months supplies of the NADH dried up, and I could not find supplies anywhere.
It is an enzyme that affects every cell in the body, enabling the ‘food’ to cross the cell wall from the blood stream, so the cells can work as normal. Without this enzyme my body can’t operate, and my energy vanishes, and I return to the early ‘hell’ of barely being able to lift my head off the pillow, and not being able to think, or digest my food. It is quite simply my lifeline!

NADH or ENADA

Years ago I found out about NADH and have supplies of the one product that works for me. There are others on the market, but after trying one, and coming dangerously close to a relapse I have stuck with my trusty MoJo ….

This sudden drying up of MoJo supplies left me in a panic – I had to try and find an alternative! The only way to discover if a brand will work for me is to stop using my MoJo completely and replace it with the new one … for an entire week. By then I will either feel OK or crash completely into the beginning of a relapse. A dangerous tightrope to walk!

Through June and July I tried out 3 products that I can source in the UK. The first 2 proved to be good, and could give me energy close to my MoJo. As July started I was testing out the third one – and by day 5 of the trial I was struggling to get out of bed in the morning. So I stopped, and returned to my dwindling supplies of the MoJo!
It meant that the first half of July I was feeling very low and struggling to get back to my ‘normal’ equilibrium. I had to rest a whole lot, I found my hands were shaky so I couldn’t hold a paintbrush, or use a camera without a tripod. I had to monitor food, only eating easily digestible food, and in small quantities – too much and I break out into a cold sweat, and must lie down until my body can digest the food. Loud music, or bright lights on the TV screen were both painful …. it was a salutary reminder of what ME had originally done to my life – eating up whole decades!
[see the page on “ME and me” here. Although written a few years ago, it is still true today! ]

So on to August ……. and it gets really hot!

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