A walk in the woods, and Chinese lantern failure

Golden ferns

Sunday was the first time in quite a while that I’ve been for a walk in the woods. I took my camera, but I wasn’t feeling at all inspired – it was that flat, dull light that we’re probably going to see a great deal of now that summer’s truly left us, and it just doesn’t do it for me at all.  But it’s a funny thing – if you keep taking shots anyway, then eventually you usually do find something that gets you going.  I started warming up a bit when I saw the ferns above; something about the soft, golden colour and the sheer quantity of them spoke to me.

After that, I saw all sorts of things.  This one’s a bit of a cliche, but I still like it.


More ferns – not as strong a composition as the top one but there was something about the feathery golden-ness of it all that appealed to me.

Ferns 2

Someone had left his or her tricycle behind; it seemed a strange place to leave it and there were no families in sight or earshot.


And this one really intrigues me: who were they missing, and why?  I’d love to know the story behind this.  I like the way they’ve used the missing piece of wall as the ‘i’ in ‘miss’.

I miss you

We also saw a slow worm. I know, I know…….. if you live in a country that has lots of snakes this probably isn’t exciting at all, but here in the UK we only have three kinds: adders, grass snakes, and slow worms, which aren’t really snakes at all but a kind of lizard without legs.  They look like small snakes, though, and you don’t see them very often.  In my excitement to photograph it I failed dismally at holding the camera still, so all my photos have camera shake and I can’t show you.  Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

It would have been Geoff’s mum’s 88th birthday on Sunday, and we had a plan for later that day. He’d given me some Chinese paper prayer lanterns for my birthday – the kind that are like hot air balloons, and you light them and send them up into the sky.  We thought we’d wait till dark and light a few and send them up as a celebration of his mum’s birthday-that-would-have-been.

Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan at all. I had said, but he hadn’t heard me, that if he wanted me to be able to photograph them we would need to do it at dusk when there was still some light.  For whatever reason, wires got crossed and it was completely dark by the time we went out, and we went to a local park where there was no ambient light.  Then we couldn’t get the damn things lit.  You attach a small square of waxy material to the wire frame at the bottom, and then light it – well that’s the theory.  It was quite windy and the matches kept blowing out and when they did stay lit the wax just wouldn’t catch.  One of us – me – had to hold the top of the lantern and aim the torch, and the other had to light the matches and hold the bottom while everything was blowing furiously around in the wind.

Lantern lightingEventually we jammed a dead match through the middle of the waxy thing and got that to light. Then followed a dangerous few minutes when the paper bit hadn’t filled enough with hot air to let go of it, but the flames from the wax were threatening to set the whole thing – and Geoff – on fire.  The picture’s on the left and I don’t know why he looks as if he doesn’t have a head.  Anyway, we got one up and it looked very pretty as it set off over Canterbury, heading for the Cathedral.  (We hoped it would put itself out before it got there and we made headlines the next morning for setting one of England’s most important heritage buildings on fire.)  Of course, you’ll have guessed by now that all my photos had camera shake.  And we tried and tried until we’d used up a whole large box of matches, but we couldn’t do it a second time.


On the walk back to the house, I spotted this overgrown road sign for my ‘nature taking over’ series, which I’m hoping might work for course assignment number three.  Thing is, I’ll need to be quick because soon nature will be retreating underground and won’t be taking over anything till next year.

Road sign