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 Elisa Liddell

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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2022 May

May 2022 Calendar
Calendar for May 2022

May begins and the world here turns from Spring into summer. Mostly it is overcast with few sunny days, little rain – and there is a constant cold wind. But despite that, the crab apple and the Victoria plum trees are full of white blossom, and the azaleas and rhododendrons give the garden some magnificent colour! No matter how cold it feels, the colours warm me!

May begins with rape seed

Even the dark and threatening sky can’t take away from the colourful world around us. There is such a lot of rape seed planted here this year!

In the rockery the delicate acer bushes have been suffering from so little rain, so we’ve been watering them carefully to keep them growing! Caught here is a burst of late evening light.

Late light on the acer
Early apple blossom buds

As the month started the crab apple tree began to turn a deep pink – a sure sign the blossom is on its way. Caught in the late sun, every branch and twig is glowing with the promise of the visual delight to come.

As the weeks pass the flowers open, and the evening air is filled with a scent of almonds. Such a beautiful extravaganza of pinks and white. When the sun catches them, the delicate pinks and white of the flowers really shine.

apple blossom in May
Yellow and green

In the wider world the rape seed and barley fields set patterns of yellow and green that fill the world. Sometimes it feels like moving through a colourful jigsaw.

The skies might be full of stormy signals, but the rainfall is still very low, sometimes nothing – at most 23 mm over an entire week.

The landscape is a yellow and green patchwork
The front garden and rockery

But the garden is a riot of colour! This is the best time of year, when all the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. We planted an entire hedge of yellow Azalea Luteum some 6 years ago.

The Azalea Luteum were expensive plants, but they are the only azaleas that have a scent … and so far they have weathered all the storms and winter freezes.

The front garden azalea luteum
books on Colour

And indoors? I’ve had little time for either painting or photography, as we have our friend, Laurie Kern across from America this month. But I am reading about the history of colour – fascinating!

The months of April and May have both been shaped by Laurie’s visit. It is so long since we had anyone to stay, even for a few days! So the spare room needed to be prepared, and an enormous amount of ‘stuff’ moved into loft, sheds, and other spaces!

Yes – Laurie arrived early in the month, and planned to spend 10 days walking the Moray Way, over 100 miles in all. But she fell and damaged her hip, and had to return early to rest and recover.

Laurie amid the Azaleas
the sea at Cullen Bay

On our way up the coast to deliver Laurie to the start point for her walk, we called in at Cullen, and I had the chance to shoot the sea there … it’s been many months since we had that delight!

It has been such an eventful and packed month, it seems to have flown past! As we move towards June, we are planning a long rest, some time to catch up with the garden and with painting, and maybe some more outings to our coast and local beauty spots!

On to June …… which brings a change of pace!
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2021 May

lines and circles
Playing with crystal orbs and marbles!

Spring is still an uncertain quantity as May begins. May 6th saw the elections to Holyrood – and the now familiar hail and gales were in evidence everywhere, with several inches of snow in the Highlands. Despite months of mud-slinging by opposition parties, and the late disruption of Alex Salmond creating a new party, the SNP led by Nicola Sturgeon emerged triumphant for a 4th term. There were huge sighs of relief, and not just here!!

As the weather remains so variable we have remained indoors a whole lot more than usual. And I have started a series of shoots of my assorted crystal balls, larger orbs and marbles. From the tiniest crystal or marble to tennis ball size and even larger, they all have their magic to weave!
The page header is a small crystal orb on a silk scarf, giving a vibrant pattern of lines and colours, reflected and refracted in the clear glass.

crystal in the sunshine
Catching the early morning sunshine

And here the same crystal was set in the window to catch the low early morning sun. With all the refracted light and inverted image of the window, the garden beyond and the sky – it is both simple and complex … and quite magical!

A decoration from Christmas
A decoration from Christmas – and one of my favourite photo props!

This time it was plastic, not glass or crystal – a favourite decoration that never gets put away with the rest of the Christmas things! It is one of my photo props that always delivers!

And May has a special significance for me, as May 12th is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. No – not for the current pandemic and all the magnificent efforts being made by nurses worldwide – but because we now think that in later life she suffered from what we now call M.E. or Post Viral Syndrome (PVS).

blue hydrangeas
Blue hydrangeas for ME/PVS day on May 12th.

PVS is what changed my life back in the 1980s. It is full of resonance now, as Long Covid is just the latest version of Post Viral Syndrome! It is undoubtedly a truly vicious virus, but there are so many similarities to previous viral attacks and their aftermath – I do hope that the medical people trying to deal with Long Covid will realise the link and draw on our experiences to help their search for ways to handle post viral events both past and present!
I’ve written about ME and Me on Inedita.

And talking of Inedita itself – it has been 3 years since we began to build this site! Time does fly!! And I decided it was time to design us a new site image.

the first site graphic
Our first site graphic for Inedita!

Our first one expressed how new we were to WordPress as our means of building (well re-building) The Liddells website. Previously I had used Dreamweaver and Microsoft FrontPage 2003. But times changed, and I needed a new platform. We’d both been writing many articles, and hosting them on a friend’s website but we wanted to collect the material together, as well as writing more personal sections, such as this Journal!
So I set about finding a new image that would combine Mike’s literary strands with my photographic ones ……

the new site graphic
And our new site graphic for Inedita

So I took the theme of Seigfried Sassoon, who’s poetry Mike has written about extensively in Sassoon Agonistes and combined a WW1 image with a photograph of my own, taken with the Lensbaby an optical system I’ve written about on Inedita too. Merging and blending images is something I enjoy, using photographs, and sometimes blending a photo with a watercolour image. There’s an album of some of the blends I’ve done on Flickr here.

And so May ends with my collage of shots and images I posted to Flickr this month.

collage for May 2021
My Flickr collage of all the shots I uploaded in May 2021

And on to June, and welcome summer with the Delta variant?
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Don’t fence me in!

The new fence and rhododendrons
The new ranch fence adorned with rhododendrons

We’ve had a small wooden ranch-style fence in the garden for years – and this year we have replaced it.
Work completed yesterday, and the smell of new wood, and wood shavings, fills the garden! I’ve planted clematis to grow up and over the fence, but at the moment it is bare, pale wood. I wanted to celebrate the new fence, so I took some rhododendrons from the front garden to adorn it.
Shot with the Sony A77ii and the Sony 100mm F2.8 Macro.

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

Apple blossom time!

The apple blossom
The apple blossom sways in the gentle Spring breeze. Shot with the Helios 44-2 lens

May starts, and the apple blossom is in full swing. We have a large crab apple tree – no use for apples in the autumn (even the bird and insects avoid the fruit)
But in the Spring the garden is full of the almond scent of the flowers, and the tree is a mass of pink buds and white flowers. A true joy!
My album of apple blossom shots is on Flickr
Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

“Rough winds……

… do shake the darling buds of May”

A little out of season with Shakespeare, as it is only March! But the rough winds are shaking the delicate first flowers on our Japanese plum tree!

Japanese plum blossom
early morning sunshine catches the first flowers on our Japanese plum tree

One of the early signs of Spring here in northern Scotland is the plum blossom. It comes out before the leaves, so the tiny flowers make the branches look pink. Here a gale was blowing, and I used a Sony NEX-6 with my old Russian Helios 44-2 lens. It’s frozen at F2.8, but it takes lovely shots with a special bokeh. On Flickr you can find my
Album of Helios 44-2 photos