From The Tower of London

Yet another set of photos that never got blogged at the time of taking them back in January (don’t ask, it’s been a very strange year) which is a shame as I was, and am, very proud of these London beauties. Many were taken from the top of Tower Bridge; I paid my tenner AND got to see some Martin Parr prints that were exhibiting there at the time.

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Tower Bridge opens its upper floor to the general public – well worth a tenner.
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How small the Tower of London now looks against all these modern constructions.
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HMS Belfast sitting tight
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The Walkie-Talkie building – twice
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City Hall and The Shard
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Lads on a bridge.
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The Sea Containers building all lit up.
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The London Eye still dressed from Christmas
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City pedestrians – they all walk so quickly.
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Hastings’ 1066 Zombie Walk of the Dead

The social calendar for Hastings continues to grow and grow, and with each event comes the opportunity to get all dressed up. Maybe preparing for the Zombie Walk is not most peoples idea of making an effort before you leave the house but it was great fun. Unfortunately, I got there too late to secure a good view of the rendition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. If you’d like to get involved, 1066 Walk of the Dead have a Facebook Page here.

Now that my stock sites are up and running, of which the most active is https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sixpixx , I am venturing out further. Having dipped my toe in the water of http://photo4me.com/profile/sixpixx to deal with the supply of a print to anyone that might possibly want one, I found the upload laborious and the pricing structures ambiguous – this is a shame because it is a smaller, local company and, ideally I would like to use them more. However, even at these returns, it would seem the marketing is still down to the photographer being very organised on social media sites and promoting their own portal (hello – haha) so, I had another look around. I have looked at, but eliminated Smugmug, Zenfolio and Shootproof and eventually settled on (and not because there may be unicorns) Pixieset where my first albums, including this collection of Zombies, have been posted.

A warning that some are quite graphic but, I hope you enjoy the photos:

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A long weekend in Dorset, England

The Purbeck railway line transports the nostalgic voyager along the 12mile track through English countryside and past the magnificent Corfe Castle sitting high on its hill above its quaint village to the seaside town of Swanage. There, we took a tall ship out along the coast to witness, from the sea, Harry Rock and the white chalk cliffs that are so typical of the south coast. Returning, on the train, to the car park, the other half was thrilled to find a car park full of vintage racing Bugatti cars. An excellent first day.

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Purbeck railway train guards smartly dressed in their traditional uniforms
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Steam Train
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Tall ship in Swanage Harbour
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Sailing the high seas.

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White Chalk Cliffs
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Swanage from the sea.
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Memorial plates on Swanage pier.
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A whole car park full of Bugatti racing cars.

We stayed in a little farmhouse just up the road from Lulworth Cove from which, cliff top footpaths offered beautiful coastal panoramas to include the famous arched peninsula of Durdle Door.

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Durdle Door
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Lulworth Cove
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East side of the Durdle Door peninsula

Of all the drama of this stretch of coast, one of the most bizarre things we saw in that small area was the grey stone beach, and therefore foreboding grey waters, but yet the multi-coloured seaweeds of Kimmeridge Bay.

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Grey stones made this bay feel very hostile.

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Yet, the multicoloured seaweeds were mesmerizing.
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Known as the Jurassic Coast, people love to collect fossils from this stretch of coastland.

Tyneham village, commandeered by the military as a strategic location during the war is still in the hands of the military and therefore the village and Worbarrow Bay are only accessible on certain designated days. We were lucky to see them.

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A whole village commandeered for military purposes during WWII
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Has become a tourist attraction

 

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Tyneham village remains
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Nice to see natural history was much more important in those days.
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Worbarrow Bay
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Incredible translucent colour which must be the chalk sea floor reflecting light.

We spend a pleasing day on the National Trust Brownsea Island. Pleasing firstly because it required 2 ferry rides to get there and secondly because there were no vehicles and few people about but mostly, because we saw a rare red squirrel. Red squirrels are indigenous however, they were virtually wiped out when the larger, more aggressive grey squirrel got introduced from Nth America in C19.

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The coastguard cottages at the entrance to the island
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Whole flocks of peacocks roaming free.
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My first red squirrel – and I should never have seen it if it hadn’t thrown an acorn at my head – haha.

The bridge at Wareham was very pretty

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Swan in bridge shadows
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Duck leaving bridge shadows
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Kayaks for hire.

And, after a thorough lovely few days, for the grand finale, which happens to be my favourite place ever, and happened to fall on my birthday… we visited Monkey World. We had been once before when the boys were young and I do try to catch the daily dramas on the TV series but there is nothing like spending time watching these apes and monkeys that have had such difficult lives – many rescued from the pet trade and some from the tourist trade. This place does a great job in giving them back some dignity and allowing as natural a life as they would ever be able to enjoy. They have an excellent breeding program with some of the rarest of species whose young can end up getting transported back to the wild. I think it’s a great cause.

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Gordon, born at the centre, has grown into a fine young man.
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Golden Cheek Gibbons mate for life. I love to hear their morning song.
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Many come to this sanctuary with psychological scars that will stay with them forever.

 

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Strategies to make feeding more stimulating
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One of the orang-utans from the nursery
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She has mothered 3 young and contributed to the breeding program for this species.
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Oshine was rescued from being a household pet where she was feed a diet of burgers and sweets. She has done much better than me on her healthy eating regime.

Hastings Pier Wins the 2017 RIBA Stirling Architecture Prize for the Best Building in the UK

Wow, that’s quite an accolade for the structure that locals either love or hate, and regardless of opinion, colloquially call ‘the plank’. The 2017 RIBA Stirling architecture prize for best building is, according to some, excessive for a space in which there is ‘nothing to do’ and well deserved for others who love to promenade to the end and enjoy the huge void above the waves. Hopefully, these photos on, off and of the pier, taken over a period of time in the past couple of years, may prove this open space, that is adaptable for a range of events such as music, yoga and…. a car show room…., is well worthy of the prize.

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In extreme weather
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Hastings and Ore Photographic Club stall out at the Health and Hobbies fair
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These heraldic, colourful flags went up again this summer.
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Choir practice
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Car Sales Room. Really?
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The Plank
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I managed to get a photo in the camera obscura before it was blown across the pier and broken during Storm Brian
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Accessible for most.
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Sunsets from here
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Storm weather
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From the beach at low tide
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With sunset behind me.
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Simon Robert’s Pierdom exhibition
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reflections in glazing panels
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The community space
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Moon rising
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A cafe with a sunset
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Zombie Walk
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Yoga
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Yarn bomb decor
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Eating space on upper deck.
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Where the sun sets
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In the rain
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Dramatic location

 

 

 

 

 

Hastings’ Pier Health and Hobbies Fair

I surprised myself yesterday by having a thoroughly enjoyable day promoting the camera club at Hastings Pier Health and Hobbies Fair. DSC_9328We pitched out with a display of photos taken by club members and received a lot of interest and then, after lunch, things got quiet so I went for a walk and practised asking people if they wouldn’t mind having their photo taken – that’s quite hard for me but everyone was very nice.

I love these images as records of social history and a mindset that seems to be disappearing. I hope you enjoy them too.

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The Phallus and The Kraken

Today, we were noticed. The ‘money’ men arrived in town.

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A plan of the proposal – as posted on Facebook

 

Those (wo)men who relish rising, in the guise of regeneration for the good of humanity, to the challenge of raising £500m of tax payers money to finance their latest scheme – those who exhibit megalomaniac egoistical behaviours in feeling compelled to grow their wealth by invading unchartered territories, measure their worth by the size of their bank account and finally, live their lives to further enhance their off shore tally, ignoring that their invasive plans may not be to the wishes nor in the interests of the majority of those tax payers. They can’t possibly conceive of, and have no interest in a community that has other interests, other values, a more altruistic muse. They come, bearing gifts they think we should want, and maybe, to our own design, we might. But, without considering that we are a creative brood, thinking and critical, with our own ideas of what might be beneficial for the town, they foster upon us an idea conceived out of the desire for maximum profit, their profit, with little thought to local values and local needs.

It seems that, at this little pinprick on the map, the people are having too much fun. There is too much joviality and all of it virtually non-taxable. Pirates, bogeys and bonfire men, women and children all rejoicing in life, beyond the reach of the fiscal arm, living and celebrating community by means that are mostly outside of the great capitalist system – they’ve not yet found a way to charge the public for attending a parade.

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Jack-in-the-Green celebrations

 

The people are too self-composed and content, thriving within their own identity, resisting much of the ‘great’ system, turning their backs on the call of the wasteful consumerist con; laughing at the contradictory concept of a rough terrain vehicle that is gleaming pearly white and renouncing the celebrity status fantasy induced by stars and spangles on long nail extensions. Somewhere, there is a people who are resisting, and remaining mostly impervious to the invasive temptations and dictates of the mainstream media. And they think those people need help. Ha!

And, all that… Until today. Today, they’ve offered us regeneration, hoping we have forgotten the pipe dreams fallen by the wayside the last time we were offered a new lease of life, in the guise of a shopping precinct and car park. We sucked up the dream (or it was sucked up for us) of prosperity and fruitful futures for our children and they left us with a capitalist temple in exchange for our central green space and community hub that was the cricket ground: a gift that drained all of the life blood out of the surrounding streets, rendering them charity shop havens. They left us with global institutions that offered up hegemonised lifestyles and minimum wage retail jobs for our youth, keeping them just above the poverty line but maximising profits for the major chain stores that have been here, and stayed, for a while.

Not really experienced to give a fair critique, as I tend to avoid it whenever I can, I’m assuming Priory Meadow shopping centre has failed in its intent to regenerate us as, according to the sales pitch for the marina development, we are still lacking. We are still lacking, yet, who is answerable when such grand promises go unfulfilled? Those that were truly regenerated from the last scheme are so long gone. Can it really be that ‘industry, education, jobs and tourism will flourish’ better this time?

They offer us more homes, more parking, moorings for 600 water craft. How exciting. A waterside apartment. I’m sure we’d all like one of those (for 5 minutes) so we can live near our boats and pop out for a jaunt whenever the weather is fine. What, there aren’t enough for us all to have one each? Well, who will get one then? Local people, you say? Is the boat included? Of course, you can’t live there and earn enough money, locally, to pay for it. The local economy is terrible for that kind of lifestyle – unless you’re a property developer – preferably in to mariners.

And please, before you think Monaco or Abu Dhabi, please visit the wind tunnels and stagnant waters of the soulless urban barnacle clusters that are Brighton and Eastbourne marinas.

They are promising ‘preservation and enhancement’ despite the constant flux of 2,600 extra cars (pearl white for her to get to the nail parlour and black tinted glass for him to go and do ‘business’). Are they promising to preserve the history that is Rock-a-Nore road and the winch road behind? No doubt we’ll be promised that one of the last beach launched fishing fleets in the country, the fish market, the museum, the small local family business fish retailers and the net huts will all be preserved, with an aside that they’ll sit, smack bang, in the middle of the one way system for residents (and tourists… will there be tourist parking on the new complex?) to access their des. res.

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Weekend traffic jams on the proposed access road

 

And, included, at no extra cost to you madam, your own little oasis of even more capitalist temples of global retail institutions. Will this retail competition from global businesses preserve the friendly, non-‘gastro’ , independent pubs and little boutique shops scattered across the old town?

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Small, independent traders who help to make Hastings unique.

 

As for the boast of preserving the cliffs, who could assume to be so powerful as to stop the rain from falling out of the sky? I believe a basic lesson in the geological structure of the local area may be beneficial before running off to central government for financing.

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The area, at the base of the cliffs, of the site proposal

 

Geographically, to site 1300 homes in an area that is already so densely populated, one assumes high rise buildings. The only possible opponent in the vicinity against which to pitch that megalomaniacal need to compete, to be bigger, to dominate, even (or especially) over nature, would have to be the cliffs themselves.

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Again, the proposed site for development.

 

A tower of concrete going head to head with a tower of sandstone and clay – I imagine there is no competition and the sandstone and clay will come tumbling down, especially once they start pile-driving the sea floor to lay the foundations for The Phallus and the arc (not Ark – that’s another story of local catastrophe) with its curvature of the spine, that for me, and in the true style of Hastings’ fun and joviality, although with foreboding of the devastation that will be created, will now be known as… The Kraken.

500 million pounds. Imagine. Just to regenerate Hastings. I’m not sure it would be enough to fully realise a ‘state-of-the-art’ marina and there would be compromises, however, if we thought about what a 21st century regeneration might look like, I’m sure we could be far more creative and relevant Should it be an urbanisation of more of the same: retail outlets and chain store coffee shops offering chain store R&R? No – how is this regeneration when we constantly hear reports that the high street stores are struggling, profit margins are down and people are spending more and more online? How are the investors expecting to get that huge return on their money?

Why doesn’t someone (someone who knows how to raise £500m) make a real investment in the future of Hastings? Why can’t it be non-destructive? Imagine piling that money into digital businesses – we’re a town of creatives – imagine a hub for digital illustrators, film makers, game designers, VR developers – attracting young working professionals to the town – upskilling our own young people. Did you know that the UK creative industries generate £87.4bn a year (http://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/uk-creative-overview/facts-and-figures)? Couldn’t we plan for a slice of that instead? Surely, something more creative, both in conception and in practice, would be a better regeneration for the town. Rather than perpetuating the low skilled jobs for low level pay and the brain drain that happens in this town when our brightest go off to university and never really come back. Give us an honest regeneration that offers a real future with some real ‘state-of-the-art’ concepts .

£500m on a prescribed, publicly funded development that seems only slightly relevant to locals in exchange for a scarred, irretrievably ruined place of natural beauty and scientific interest doesn’t sound ‘state-of-the-art’ in this day and age. Haven’t we seen it all before?

A walk down All Saints Street, Hastings

Well, it took me over an hour to walk the few hundred yards that is All Saints Street in Hastings. It was resplendent under the mid afternoon sun – not the best time to take photos but sometimes you have to before everything disappears into shadow.

At least, this time, I managed to stop myself for a while before being drawn over the road and onto the beach. But that’s another post.

 

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The Priscilla MacBean (C1920) is one of the two old life boats currently on display in Hastings
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The Stag Inn is the reputedly the most haunted pub in Hastings.
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Example of Tudor architecture in Hastings
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The flagstones of All Saints Street pavements.
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Pretty flowers decorated the street.
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Looking a little spaghetti western in places adds to the eclectic atmosphere of Hastings Old Town
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People making a real effort with their potted plants And, when the decisive moment is the sudden appearance of a babies’ buggy.
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Maybe not the oldest architecture, but I love these little cottages.
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These slab steps are a fond memory of my youth – sitting there with my then besties 🙂
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More early architecture – once inhabited by fishermen and tradesmen, many have now been priced out by holiday let landlords.
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Love zinc pots
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Postcard perfect scene.
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The second of the lifeboats on display with All Saints church in the background.

 

Hastings Carnival 2017

Unfortunately, due to reasons I can only imagine – rising costs, austerity, people working harder for their buck – the amount of people putting time and effort into Hastings Carnival seems to diminish year on year. Or, maybe, there are so many dress up events in the town’s social calendar (bonfire night, Mayday, pirates day….) that this event, that predates all of them, is no longer ‘trendy’.

Thankfully, there are still those that value it and here are some of them:

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Douggie Dog

I REALLY thought I’d published this post a couple of weeks ago. Oh well, it just means there are more photos to put up.

Yes, losing Poppy knocked us backward quite badly. Despite her age, she was still so fit and active that when the complication came along, neither of us was prepared. I know everyone’s pet is super special but, really, she was.

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Knowing we had a house move coming up was a very convenient excuse to not to have to think about what we were going to do with neither kids or dogs in the house. It was very calm and strange. Going for a walk was a bit of a hollow experience. After a few months, it was time to talk about ‘the void’ and what we should do about it. We decided, being quite experienced dog owners, there was no reason why we shouldn’t take a rescue dog this time. I’m so glad we did. His name is Doug and he is 10 months old. When we first bought him home, he was very manic; lots of lunging and BIG barks. So, for the first couple of weeks we walked him, everyday, along the river where he could run back and forward but not left or right because of waterways on each side. Like a typical puppy, he could go from 100% to nothing in seconds. There was a lot of sleeping.DSC_5243

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Yes, as you can see, as well as a very unusual coat, seen mostly on Collies, he’s a stumpy dog – vertically challenged – a big dog with short legs. But, I say again, a BIG bark. We’ve been told he’s collie, corgi and basset hound – who cares. He’s lovely.

Anyway, once we’d done some work with recall, it was over the road to the beach. Timid at first, it didn’t take him long to love getting in that water. And, discovering smelly seaweed is great for a roll.

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A few days on and we were feeling confident enough to take him on the hill where lots of dogs get walked. We learned he plays very nicely with other dogs. This was also combined with learning that, although the walk through the streets a little stressful with lots of attempted lunging and successful barking, once we got to a café, life was very good. He loves to lay under the table and watch the world go up and down the street. Not sure what we’ll do in winter when we have to go inside.

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Hopefully, by then, the training will be really paying off and any remnants of previous undesirable behaviour will be non-existent. Maybe?

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In the meantime, whilst the sun shines, we shall take full advantage, have as many adventures as possible, and get as many photos as I can. It looks like we’re going to be lucky dog slaves again 🙂

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St Michael’s Hospice Moonlight Walk

Having cared so well for both my dad, and then my mum when her time came, I rushed to volunteer to take photos of any marketing event held by St Michael’s Hospice – it’s not much I hope it helps a little.

So, I got an email for my first assignment – an open garden afternoon might have been a little easier that their Moonlight Walk… But, hey, I got on with it. Unaware of the poor camera settings at the half way point (ISO VERY high), I’m not so proud of those taken with the flash. And, next time I MUST take a torch a) to actually see what I’m doing and b) to highlight my subject so the camera can focus. Every day’s a learning day.

Here are a few of some of the local people who also believe St Michael’s Hospice is very worthy of their free time:

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